This much we knew when darkness engulfed the Print Room stage signalling the beginning of the piece; but we’d have been better off not knowing it at all, so that we didn’t earnestly try (and in my case fail) to find any points of contact between Dostoevsky’s and Teshigawara’s respective Idiots.
Granted, Teshigawara openly acknowledged the impossibility of adapting Dostoevsky’s work to a dance piece for two dancers, himself and his long term collaborator, Rihoko Sato, plus a brief appearance by Emiko Murayama, who scurries on got up as an oversize rat.
Instead, Teshigawara said, ‘this impossibility has been key to approach and create something completely new.’ New Teshigawara’s The Idiot certainly is, but it’s also annoyingly obscure.
It starts with an extended period of darkness, eventually broken by the projection of a hazy circle of light high up on the backcloth. Then recorded music – a collage of well-known Russian 19th century orchestral pieces – starts playing; but it has to be said that The Print Room’s sound system is far from ideal, so that the sound is muffled, rather than crisp and clear.
Eventually a muted spotlight reveals Saburo Teshigawara’s slight figure standing centre-stage in white pants and a dark jacket. The latter will have its own starring moment towards the end.
Teshigawara jerks and twitches and appears to be struggling with imaginary insects which he repeatedly tries to slap away from his clothes and skin. This is a nod, perhaps, to the original character's epilepsy, but Teshigawara's character comes across as a bit of an idiot, though not in the sense Dostoevsky meant.
Rihoko Sato sweeps on in a long black dress, her face expressionless, and circles him a number of times before going off again. She is mysterious, unattainable; and he is drawn towards her.
It’s not until the half-hour mark that Teshigawara essays any movements that could conceivably be called dance; and when he does he comes across as an expressive mover, legs and arms in great sweeping turns, in which he is joined by Sato. You just wonder why he chose not to give us more of this.
There follows a section where, having taken his jacket off, he tries and repeatedly fails to put it on again, his arms incapable of finding the sleeves, in the kind of prolonged gag that clowns regularly produce for the amusement of young circus audiences – except here nobody was laughing, nor, I guess, were we meant to.
The rat then comes on and steals the jacket. And soon after we reach the end and walk off into the night wondering what exactly we’ve just seen – and why.
|What||Saburo Teshigawara, The Idiot Review|
|Where||The Coronet Theatre, Print Room, 103 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3LB | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Notting Hill Gate (underground)|
20 Mar 19 – 30 Mar 19, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour no interval
|Price||£15-£30 (concessions available)|
|Website||Click here to book via The Print Room|