It tells the utterly compelling story of Japanese citizens whose strange disappearances from coastal towns in the late 1970s were later revealed to be kidnappings by North Korean agents. With the Tricycle’s Indhu Rubasingham director, The Great Wave is a laudable and often touching production.
Turnly takes the story of Megumi Yokota as inspiration, the most famous of the Japanese abductees. She creates a story around Hanako (Kirsty Rider), a 17-year-old girl whose kidnapping leaves her older sister Reiko (Kae Alexander) and mother Etsuko (Rosalind Chao) reeling and searching for answers.
Rosalind Chao, Kae Alexander in The Great Wave by Francis Turnly
An epic saga spanning 24 years, Turnly’s script focuses mostly on plot often to the detriment of character development, and at times is clunky and lacks depth. Yet the mesmerising story itself, which Turnly grounds in real historical events, is enough to fuel The Great Wave’s force. Scenes where Turnly emphasizes the undeniable bond between sisters and family are the most resonating.
Rubasingham excels at foregrounding this deep love and loyalty between family, and allows these moments to swell. It’s paced well, and Tom Piper’s smart rotating stage to mimic the ebb and flow of tides and of time. Some of the acting is a bit stiff, but Rider as Hanako and Alexander as Reiko are both excellent, each beautifully shifting from teenage girls to women whose resilience and determination have defined their lives. It’s also excellent to see an East Asian cast dominate at the National.
Slick, smartly staged, and an enthralling story, The Great Wave is a testament to the importance of telling diverse stories on London’s stages. And even while it occasionally loses its momentum and is at times a bit shallow, it is undeniably evocative and moving.
|What||The Great Wave, National Theatre review|
|Where||National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
10 Mar 18 – 14 Apr 18, 7:30 PM – 8:00 PM
|Price||£15 - £40|
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|