Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Out There" with "The Room Nobody Knows"

Pan's Labrynth? Child's play. 

If you want to see magical realism from an Eastern perspective, look no further than Niwa Gekidan Penino's The Room Nobody Knows

Credit: The Walker

I jest somewhat, but there really is a Guillermo del Toro-ness to Penino's play that simultenously lends it a familiar yet impossible feel. 

Set inside the dreams of a young man,  The Room Nobody Knows portrays everything from prison like cells to horned elf-slaves to ubiquitous phallic imagery to a highly eroticized relationship between two middle aged brothers. It's entirely in Japanese, entirely improbable, and entirely captivating. 

I'm not sure how to describe a "plot" as such, since this play is a dream sequence - but let's just leave it as a man's unhealthy obsession with his brother manifested as a room created explicitly for erotic hero worship. Oh, and there are penis flutes, which are played by elves and humans alike in a rousing rendition of "Pachelbel's Canon."

Credit: The Walker

It is highly probably that the world Niwa Gekidan Penino has created for The Room Nobody Knows is unlike anything you've seen on a stage before. The horizontally split set is at once jarring but fascinating, and something I'd like to see more productions use. The vertical interplay (rather than the typical horizontal staging with asides) lends itself to creating the dream effect, suggesting an almost Inception-like quality.

At a brisk 60 minutes long, it's an in-and-out kind of show, but one that will leave you pondering for much longer. The Room Nobody Knows is a Japanese twist into the world of magical realism and fantasy - check it out if you get a chance.

With the end of Penino's run, the Walker's "Out There" series is halfway complete. A delightful experiment in terms of theatrical possibility, "Out There" is required viewing for avid theater goers, introducing them to new and endless ways live theater can be portrayed and stories can be told. "Out There" runs through the end of January; for more information, click on this link.