Hanafuda Denki: A Tale of Playing Cards

HERE , Downtown Wednesday August 22 2012 19:00
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Hanafuda Denki: A Tale of Playing Cards
Photograph: Yumi Aman
“I adore a funeral!” utters a chic, pin-thin matron clad in black as she welcomes the audience to Hanafuda Denki, the Tokyo-based Ryuzanji Company’s adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. Performed in Japanese with English subtitles, this avant-garde interpretation is set in the 1920s, in a downtown Tokyo funeral home owned by a dead family; when their only daughter, Katura, falls in love with a living boy named Kitaro, patriarch Danjuro plots for a drop-dead-handsome nonliving boy to seduce Katura into the underworld. Though this crafty, raucous retelling sometimes struggles through a purgatory of muddled narrative and hellish humor, its bold concept provides ingredients for a well-balanced Brechtfast. Performed excitingly with a neo-Kabuki flair, the songs are sung into a single microphone passed around by the highly committed ensemble, who sing to kitschy, karaoke-like instrumental tracks that are funny and sometimes familiar (listen for Chicago's “All I Care About”). You might ponder the point at first, but stick with the show: A piercing revelation at the climax will haunt you on your way out. (Visit our Fringe Festival page for more reviews, and fringenyc.org for more information.)—Derek Smith


Venue name: HERE
Address: 145 Sixth Ave
New York
Cross street: at Dominick St
Transport: Subway: C, E to Spring St
Price: $15, at the door $18
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