Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker

Theatre, Experimental
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

The most WTF show of the year

Er. Look. I’m going to level with you. I could pretend I knew what the hell was going on in this frankly bewildering Japanese show. I could pretend I understand any of the context in which it exists, or pass off the official description – ‘We’d like you to see that the youth of Japan are “genki” [Japanese for healthy/energetic/lively]’ – as if I knew what that meant. I could bore you with my slight, nagging suspicion that Extreme Voices, the company behind the show, are peddling a sort of exaggerated version of stereotypical Japanese eccentricity, that it’s the equivalent of us sending a troop of morris-dancing beefeaters over to Japan and billing them as art. But the honest truth is, I have absolutely no fucking idea. 

And perhaps that’s as it should be. ‘Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker’ consists of about 15 minutes of casual chat from a slacker-ish translator whose job is essentially to stress that we’re liable to get very wet (did I mention we’re all issued with rain ponchos?) followed by the main performance which, erm… How to put it? Imagine the entire Glastonbury Festival compacted down to 30 minutes and everyone is Japanese. Maybe. 

Basically there’s a company of 25 enthusiastic Japanese people. They do some strange dance routines. There is loud music, a mix of blaring J-pop and incongruously familiar numbers such as ‘One Day More’ from ‘Les Mis’. They throw a lot of stuff at us: water, glitter, seaweed, confetti, various foods. There are lots of costume changes. There are lots of glow sticks. Members of the company run along the rows shouting excitedly and apologising for treading on us. At the end they order us on stage and carry on with the show from our seats. I think there’s a note of irony to the whole thing, but there are moments I’m not so sure. 

So, I haven’t a clue what ‘Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker’ is about. But it is utterly joyous: the WTF rush of You Me Bum Bum Train but with a sense of genuine communal adventure. It’s fuelled by a dizzying ridiculousness, a frisson of total, glorious bafflement. If I’d known what the hell was going on, I might have had more a more complicated response to the show. But I didn’t, and I loved it.

Part of LIFT. Check out what else is going on at LIFT 2016


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