Little Boy

Wed 2nd – Mon 28th August 2017

reviews

Jessica Lord

at 23:22 on 9th Aug 2017

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‘Little Boy’ is a one man contemporary showcase, written and performed by Japanese artist Yuuya Ishizone. As it was shortlisted for the Asian Arts Award in 2016, I was excited to see the performance. However, I left the venue feeling very perplexed as to not only what the story was, but also as to the point and focus.

I am uncertain as to whether the piece was originally written in Japanese, and translated into English, as this would potentially explain why some sentences didn’t make total sense. This made the performance very difficult to follow, and it therefore required extra effort to try to understand the actual plot-line. Intense repetition, also, didn’t work as a dramatic device; it simply added to my confusion. The speech and delivery as a whole was very clunky, and quite difficult to understand.

However, despite this, there were moments of this monologue that I really did enjoy. A scene in which Ishizone jumps (quite literally) between characters, was fast paced, and amusing, as he documents a young man attempting to take a girl home with him. Similarly, the lighting techniques that were employed were very clever. For example, at one point, Ishizone is burying (I believe) his father, and the lighting successfully creates the silhouette of a grave - which was very effective and helped to create a very dark atmosphere.

However, these glimmers of humour (and literal glimmers of light) were not enough to salvage this production. The room was stuffy and humid which I found difficult to sit within, and the staging of the piece (the audience sat to either side of the performer) meant that you were always in the direct line of a spotlight, which was uncomfortable to sit under for an hour.

Although certain one-liners will stick with me, ‘happiness is not systematic’, I was surprised when the production came to its conclusion, as I didn’t feel the ending was expected, nor fitted with the storyline, although, I’m not entirely sure what the storyline actually was.

Though I’m sure the concept was gallant, I am yet to understand what in fact the concept actually was. Although Yuuya Ishizone as an individual was very pleasant and friendly as we left the venue, I am deeply sad to say, that this performance is not one I’d want to recommend.

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Louis Harnett O'Meara

at 10:15 on 10th Aug 2017

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I arrived to see Yuuya Ishizone’s one-man show, ‘Little Boy’, in good time, allowing myself twenty minutes to sit down and enjoy a coffee before it began. This was probably the only reason I managed to stay awake throughout the performance; the room was a black five by five meter box, and the theatre lights had warmed the little air there was to a sleepy, stuffy level.

There were about twelve chairs to either side of the strip of space through the middle. Yuuya stood to one side of the strip staring at the opposite wall waiting for the audience to be seated. His dress was stylish: a collarless white linen shirt and white trousers, an open white-detailed transparent umbrella held up above his head. However, from the moment he started speaking I was entirely lost. It didn’t help that I was already struggling to maintain a clear mind in the stuffy little cube, but huge portions of the performance’s dialogue were incomprehensible, and there was no music to offer any respite. Often the sentences did not make proper grammatical sense, and many of the lines seemed to be misspoken and/or repeated. With this in mind, it’s difficult to give a fair assessment to Yuuya’s writing abilities, but I think the language barrier had proven to be a difficult obstacle to surmount.

As a performer he displayed a competent range of emotions, and it was clear that he had talent. However, as he switched between the show’s characters it was not quite clear which character he was performing as, which stopped me from seeing exactly what he was trying to establish. Although it looked as though there were some developed characters that had received a lot of thought and attention, the opaqueness of my own confusion prevented me from gaining any real insight.

The theme eventually revealed itself to be Hiroshima. It was clear that the performance was heartfelt and the message noble; addressing a topic he seemed well equipped to tackle. The monologues that were more comprehensible were engaging and at times thought provoking. This suggested a much deeper level of dramatic complexity than I was able to perceive directly.

I find this a difficult review to write, as it seems unfair to discourage what might have some potential, but ultimately I do not think this show was ready to be performed. It needs some serious revision and rephrasing before it can receive a fair assessment from an audience. It was an ambitious effort, and perhaps it was a diamond in the rough – but all in all, I can honestly only say that I saw the rough.

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