Five Days in March

A quirky new Japanese play takes place right before the Iraq War.

  • UNDERWEAR MODEL Rutherford talks about her latest conquest.

UNDERWEAR MODEL Rutherford talks about her latest conquest.

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Is this trend like when everyone in Hollywood decides, simultaneously, that the time is ripe for a comet disaster movie? Because people, we’ve got a streak. Toshiki Okada, the Japanese author of last month’s mischievous Enjoy , is back with the endearing Five Days in March —also translated by Aya Ogawa, also directed with an eye toward physical theater. This time it’s Dan Safer taking on Okada’s slippery storytelling, in which characters phase-shift between identities and tenses while trying to decide where to begin their tale.

We do eventually understand that, during the run-up to the Iraq War, two strangers have gone tumbling into a five-day, anonymous orgy. Elsewhere, a lonely girl (Heather Christian) dictates her diary, and much discussion of the joys of bad movies is had. Buoyed by Dave Malloy’s puckish electronic score, Okada seems sweeter, funnier and less ritualistic than he did in Enjoy , despite a turn to overtly political and sexual elements here. Again the writer bombards us with the stop-and-go rhythms of actual speech, but cast members such as Wil Petre and Kourtney Rutherford interpret his false starts as adorable flakiness (adding to the sense of lightness), rather than slacker bummertude. Safer—a choreographer and purveyor of low-fi mayhem—tries to keep his natural ebullience in check, at first simply parading his actors up to a microphone in front of a silvery foil curtain. Luckily, though, he soon slips the leash, hauling in set elements and Christian’s fall-on-your-knees version of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars.” Okada’s needling naturalism has its clarifying pleasures, but it took a final-act dance break to make me curl my toes with glee.

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La MaMa E.T.C.. By Toshiki Okada. Dir. Dan Safer. With ensemble cast. 2hrs 10mins. One intermission.