"The See Magazine" (EdmontonjReview
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.