There’s no business like show business and there’s no show like DasShoku Hora!
Utterly defying classification, this genre-bending, absurdist, abstracted, politically-charged social documentary-cum-cabaret embodies everything theatre ought, but oh-so-rarely does. Energetic; confronting; confounding; confusing; challenging; comical; spectacular.
At the heart, and helm, is creator, choreographer, and performer, Yumi Umiumare; not far off, to the side, her indispensible ‘co-conspirators’, Matt Crosby and Ben Rogan.
Performance aside, for a moment, special mention should go to set designer, Mary Moore, and the Hoshika Oshimi’s Ess.Hoshika Laboratory, for witty, ingenious and speccy costume.
Narratively, DSH introduces Yamamba, an ancient mountain hag, who has an unnerving tendency to devour those who venture too close; a kind of primordial Zsa Zsa. Somehow (p’r’aps by not-so-immaculate conception), she bears twins: a scientist and a businessman.
Together, these towering icons of ill will set about exploiting the shallow world in which they, and we, live.
Of course, if you get all this, without reference to the programme, you’ve probably had a good deal less shiraz and sake than your reviewer. That gleaned, however, it’s not hard to discern the unbridled, adverse commentary on a world where values are gravely misplaced.
This is the world of Paris Hilton and, while she should, very probably, have her gaol term extended, for crimes against celebrity, we are guilty of creating such monsters, as a by-product of our vacuous addiction to ‘reality’ televisual pornography, ‘reality’ estate & RSVP.
But before I go too far down a track better traversed by, say, Cardinal Pell, I ought point to Yamamba’s metamorphosis, or mutation, into Ganguro girl, revered, blonde, tanned, Shibuya protagonist. (Shibuya being, of course, a fascinating subculture, named after the Tokyo ward in which it incubates.)
Ganguro girl steps into a veritable phonebox, to emerge, as Muijina, the kimono girl, somewhat the poorer in terms of, well, face. All this effected with powerfully effective use of lighting (courtesy the unpronounceable Dori Bicchierai), music and sound design (Tatsuyoshi Kawabata).
Yumi’s final incarnation is nubile, precocious, pretty-in-pink ‘Hello, Kitty’, ensconced in the enjokosai (‘rescue relationship’) lounge, where she sells her panties to desperate and dateless men.
It’s all a bit inscrutable, but the caustic surgery on vapid aspects of contemporary Japanese and broader culture lays bare its very emptiness.
At the same time, this is exciting, vital (in every sense), vibrant, visceral Butoh, from Australia’s only dancer of that ilk. But Yumi is more than that: she’s an inimitable, self-made icon in her own right, with several, seemingly unbreakable strings to her bow. That it builds in the physical and side-splitting written comedy of Rogan & Crosby is a momentous plus.
This was the third in the DasShoku series; I anticipate and will relish a fourth.
The Studio at Sydney Opera House presents
by Yumi Umiumare and her DasSHOKU team
Tuesday 29 May to Saturday 2 June @ 8.15pm
9250 7777 or online at sydneyoperahouse.com/thestudio