EFR - Reviews of NEWS JUNKIE

NEWS JUNKIE

Tue 19th – Mon 25th August 2014

reviews

Gender Trouble

at 17:38 on 20th Aug 2014

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Acted solely by Yuuya Ishizone, News Junkie is the story of a man who recalls his girlfriend who passed away. It is told through news reports and phone calls.

Whilst the play used an interesting technique in telling a story mainly through one sided phone calls, it was ultimately let down by the way this technique was executed. Frequently, Ishizone would leave unrealistically short pauses whilst speaking on the phone, making the imaginary recipient's lines hard to believe in.

Furthermore, having so many one sided phone conversations made it difficult for the audience to identify with Ishizone's character, let alone his relationship with his girlfriend 'Jen'. This was problematic on a plethora of levels: it was difficult to feel any sympathy for the relationship between a girlfriend and boyfriend when we only see one member of that relationship. Equally, the script also suffered from being overwritten and demonstrative. The phone call dialogue was often boring, and merely drip fed the audience the plot in a hugely didactic way: "What? You quit? You quit your job? You quit your dream job?"

The script's attempts at comedy were equally ill judged. At one point Ishizone's character tried to mime 'Rock, Paper Scissors' over the phone - an action that was unconvincing the first time, not to mention the second and third.

Sadly, News Junkie was something just not worth seeing. The plot was often boring and told in a didactic and unrealistic way. We can only hope that Yorimichi have better treats for us in store next year, as they seem to be an established and diverse theatre company.

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Molly Brown

at 09:32 on 21st Aug 2014

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News Junkie, a show by Japanese production team Yorimichi, explores one man’s battle to beat his feelings of worthlessness and loneliness. The play is structured through an alternating sequence: increasingly frantic phone calls to a past love are interspersed with the character’s attempts to practice for his dream job of news-reading. The potential lover on the other end of the phone has ‘made it’ in broadcasting, but despite her return to Japan, remains uninterested in the offer of a dinner date.

I began the play feeling awkward – the irony that a play titled News Junkie was being performed to an audience comprising solely of three reviewers did little to appease the fear of being in a tiny audience. The play opened with a solitary man with a thick Japanese accent struggling to read a news headline – I began to fear the worst. Ten minutes later these feelings had evaporated, feeling completely safe in the hands of the actor and his performance. The language barrier became central to the character’s personality in an interesting and moving way, pronunciation having prevented his progress towards his preferred career, and left him, worryingly, with a job as an English teacher.

Yuuya Ishizone is a captivating performer: dynamic in his movements, dextrous in his facial expression. The script, which he wrote, is good, despite occasional stiltedness as a result of hearing only one side of the man’s conversation with Jennifer. I was slightly confused by the ending, but found the plot arch and character development well paced and well executed.

News Junkie is a study of desperation and isolation, but it would be a great shame for it to be ignored by crowds. Go and fill their audience.

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