Theater Reviews on "HANAFUDA DENKI 2012"

HAIRLINE REVIEWS 14 Aug 2012@by Keira Farrell
eHanafuda Denkif offers pitch-black comedy at its best.
The performances and costumes are equally outlandish and exciting. Expect gender bending, great tunes and gallows humour. A piece which will make the audience laugh, sing along and then leave thinking – what more could anyone ask?

THEATRE IS EASY@15 Aug 2012@by Rachel Merrill Moss
Delightfully overwhelming from start to finish, this spectacle-driven production is an hour and change well spent.

Fantastically dedicated and beautifully decorated actors stream in and out of the action in this terrifically staged piece, pumping the intimate performance space full with nearly more energy than it can handle. Spooky and aesthetically delicious, Hanafuda Denki is an entirely enjoyable piece of entertainment.

A YOUNGER THEATRE@15 August 2012 @ by Charlie Ely
The musical numbers swirl between Japanese classical music and modern pop songs, 1920fs American show tunes and Weimar Republic cabaret, all with lashings of satire and kooky choreography.

The costumes and makeup are sensational, a colourful clash of East and West, contributing significantly to this project of making nihilism fun. Ryuzanji Company have performed all over the world but this is their UK debut. I would very much like to see them return.@

BackstageOff-Off-Broadway Review Aug. 23, 2012 By Nicole Villeneuve
The players perform a seemingly impossible balancing act, remaining completely committed while winking at the audience, bringing them in on the fun. review@August 22, 2012     by Chris Harcum
This show is a feast for the eyes and ears. And the entire company of actors does an admirable job of pulling off the mash-up of styles in this. They are all top-notch and so great to watch.
If this is hell, sign me up. Heck, I'll even become fluent in Japanese.

The Time Out New York@Thu Aug 23 2012@By Derek Smith
You might ponder the point at first, but stick with the show: A piercing revelation at the climax will haunt you on your way out.

A riff on death and the sad game of living, gHanafuda Denki h

Performed with full-tilt commitment and unusual discipline

BEST NEW YORK COMEDY4/4@August 24, 2012@By Hy Bender
A spectacular dark fantasy comedy thatfs a bit like anime on stage; colorful, dream-like, overwhelming

One of most colorful, cunning, and hilarious epics about life & death you'll see anywhere.

NY Overall Excellence Award at the FringeNYC


THE PLANK MAGAZINE@September 8th, 2012@By Danielle Benzon
It's Cirque Surreal

CiTR Radio@September 10, 2012@By CiTR Radio@Maegan Thomas
Thus far, Hanafuda Denki blew my mind on the levels of creativity,
theatrity, humour, talent and pure delight.

Pick of the Fringe award at the Victoria's Fringe

CFUVfs Picks of the Fringe

Victoria Critics Choice Awards 2012

The Vancouver Sun@September 14, 2012 @By Erika thorkelson
This absurd, raucous, surprisingly hilarious musical meditation on death has sadly ended its run. But Tokyofs Ryuzanji Company has definitely left behind a mark and hopefully theyfll return to Vancouver in coming years.

Theater Reviews on gHanafuda Denki- A tale of Playing Cards 2011h



Yamanashi News
Unique characters question the nature of life and death in this fun musical. Set in a temple with a black and white funeral banner backdrop, dead actors wear gaudy costumes and white painted faces.

Tokyo Theatre Clip@8/6/11
The 3/11 disaster impacted how Japanese people view life and deathc An old woman watched this play and said that she no longer feared death.
 This stage evokes something needed in this era.@

A gorgeous play with an interwoven arabesque of life and death.
Make-up, music, and dance pulse delicatelyc the throbbing world of Terayama is replicated to scale. Hiroko Ito is beautiful as Kitaro.

A festive musical comedy bursting with humor and energy c brilliantly shows a world where there are no restrictions on life and death, and people can move freely from one world to the other.

Theater Reviews on gTHE LOVE CRAZED SAMURAIh

By Morio Emori in gTheater Artsh Fall, 2004 issue

 gRyuzanji has completely changed the direction of the play this time.  Two of the main male characters are played by women:  Hiroko Ito as Gengobei Satsuma, and Saori Aoki as Sangoro Sasanoya.  The purpose of that is to create a drama that reflects the gtimes of warsh today by having gwomenh, who pray for peace, gperformh the men fighting for meaningless gtaigih (moral law).  Therefs singing, dancing, and sword fighting, which should be called gRyuzanji-Takarazuka-Kabukih (Takarazuka is a Japanese theater company only with women.)  The direction was successful.  Because the two actresses played samurais, the foolishness and sadness of men obsessed with gtaigih have expanded, and the play also reflects todayfs world that gtaigih, which is a supreme ideology, exists.  The twists about the money (100 ryo) are very clear, which expresses people getting trapped and ruining themselves for money and love.  Nanbokufs world portrayed with his complicated text, the daily lives of ronins and townspeople with great hardships and their relations with gtaigih, was made to be simple and clear, and Ryuzanji revived the classical piece to the present as a fast pace show full of singing and dancing.h 


Kumamoto Newspaper, August 6, 2004.11.4

 gItfs a love-hatred play about a ronin who is deceived by a geisha and her husband, originally written by Nanboku Tsuruya who wrote gYotsuya Kaidanh.  Mr. Ryuzanji directed it and created an entertaining piece with singing and dancing, which the actorsf energy and the dignity of the play interacted on stage.h 


 By Shigeo Kaji in Nikkan Sports, December 10, 2002

 gA show that reconstructed a kabuki piece written 400 years ago as a gcontemporary playh and that thoroughly described aesthetics of evil.  I was able to see true nature of human beings through the brutal evils.h 


By Osamu Imamura in Asahi Newspaper, December 27, 2002 

gNanboku Tsuruyafs kabuki piece about a ronin, Kazuemon Fuwa, and cause and effect of money and love became a colorful music play, blooming as a beautiful evil flower on stage.h


Theater Guide, March 2003

 gIt was the best gThe Love Crazed Samuraih Ifve ever seen.  The theater was filled with energy.  The direction that seems to say what moves the world are lust and greed and the acting were united, which was dragging the audience into Nanboku world.  The audience was enjoying it as well.h


By Tamotsu Watanabe in Theatro, February, 2003 issue

 gThe fast-pace story was easy to understand for anybody and intensified the impact.  Watching the play, I realized that Nanbokufs kabuki surprisingly had a contemporary balance and that the twists about the 100 ryo were rational and debatable at the same time, and I felt like hefd have a narcissistic smile of satisfaction.  The other productions of gThe Love Crazed Samuraih should learn the fast-pace and clarity of the play.h


 By Tomoko Saito in Theatro, February, 2003 issue

 gIt was a show that left a heavy impression of the world Nanboku portrayed, of the emptiness of the people involved in bloody Chushingura.h


 By Hiroshi Seto in Manabu, February, 2003 issue

 ggThe Love Crazed Samuraih is about people deceiving and killing each other for a raid and gtaigih. 

The fierce sword fighting scenes are the highlights in kabuki, but the Ryuzanji version more focused on the relationships between the characters than the action scenes.  Theyfre the people who struggle between their mission to make a raid and personal feelings.  Is it allowed to deceive and kill someone for gtaigih?  How many victims are there behind it?

Ifve seen different productions of gThe Love Crazed Samuraih, both kabuki and contemporary versions, but this one made me really understand the structure of the play.h



Canada tour 2000

Theater Reviews on gThe puppet's house" (=Educating mad persons)


"The See Magazine" (Edmonton Review)
by Scott Sharplin, August 24, 2000

What with 12 performers on stage, Japanese dialogue with (somewhat dubious) surtitles, and a cast of characters that would have made Beckett's brow furrow, "Educating Mad Persons" cut sometimes be a bit hard to keep track of all at once. Stand back, though, and you'll see a bold, stylishly executed experimental marvel where humans become puppets and luggage becomes just about everything else.
Rich voices, vibrant costumes and some sweeping choreography make this a treat for all theatre buffs. It's Albee, Brecht, and Wilfred Watson by way of Kurosawa: bizarre, majestic, and utterly one of a kind.


gThe Edmonton Journalh Review
by Roger Lavesque, August 23, 2000

I'm not sure I really understood the underlying themes, but I couldn't help enjoying the multimedia vision and intense performances in this truly exotic, existentially inscrutable operetta from Japan's underground Ryuzanji Company.
The eclectic sonic backdrop includes some live drumming and crashing gongs for brash punctuation, prompting some very physical dance work (especially the puppet manipulation). A few references to classic Japanese theatre show up in the costumes, painted faces and percussion but this is something truly contemporary, spontaneous and occasionally frightening in Persons. Don't let the subtitles scare you away; despite less-than-perfect grammatical translation, the minimal text came across fine and some of the songs are sung in English. It's rare and different.


gThe Times Colonisth Review
by Adrian ChamberlainCSeptember 2C2000

One of the Victoria Fringe Theatre@Festiva1's most singular offerings is@"Educating Mad Persons".This extraordinary operetta is being stagedby one of Japan's leading alternative theatre companies, Ryuzanji and Company. Written by the late Shuji Terayama, it's a must-see for the serious theatre-goer.
Much of what makes "Educating Mad Persons" such an unforgettable, exotic experience is the rich diversity of its parts. Originally created as a puppet show, it encompasses elements of Noh theatre (speciflcally kuruimono, dealing with people who are mad), Kabuki, Brechtian theatre and modern dance. The music, mostly recorded, contains smatterings of Western jazz, pop and Latin - all strained through a Japanese sensibility.
On a basic level, "Educating Mad Persons" deals with the plight of women living in a society that strips them of power. The show opens with six men dressed in black ninja-style costumes physically manipulating six women as though they are puppets. These women playing characters of both sexes are imprisoned in what may be an insane asylum.
Wearing Kabuki-inspired white@makeup and colourful, tattered costumes, the women take roles such as a grandmother with a mania for cats. and a cross-eyed grandfather who@invents tales of his sea adventures. When a doctor suggests only one of them is insane, they set about to kill the mad person in their midst.In their zeal to appear "normal," five Of the six fearfully copy the actionsof each other, suggesting a totalitarian political regime.