Thousand Years Waiting

By Chiori Miyagawa. Dir. Sonoko Kawahara. With Margi Douglas, Sophia Skiles, Anna Wilson. P.S. 122 (see Off-Off Broadway).

HOT CROSS BUNRAKU Skiles, left, and Wilson get all dolled up.

HOT CROSS BUNRAKU Skiles, left, and Wilson get all dolled up.

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

Whether it’s “Cinderella” or “Sleeping Beauty,” women seem doomed to repeat the past not because they forget it, but because they remember only the rescues and redemptions, rather than the princely no-shows in real life. In Thousand Years Waiting, Chiori Miyagawa crosses cultures and genres to illustrate the seductive power of our selective memories—and how the old patterns can be transcended.

In the play’s artfully interwoven stories, a contemporary New Yorker (Douglas) who left her dull heartland home to come to the big city finds a copy of The Sarashina Diary, a memoir written by a Japanese woman (Skiles) 1,000 years ago. The New Yorker is enchanted by the parallels between herself and the diarist, who dreams of a life filled with the excruciating glamour and exquisite sorrow experienced by the endless string of women loved and left by the dashing hero (Wilson) of Lady Murasaki’s The Tale of Genji.

While the drama’s ultimate insights are unsurprising, its themes and time schemes are intertwined with deft grace. Both director Sonoko Kawahara’s stylized choreography and the eclectic music reflect the juxtaposition of old and new, and some sequences using a elegant Otome Bunraku puppet against a starry backdrop are pure magic. Finally, the interplay between the diarist and her sister (also Wilson) complicates the material’s potential didacticism by suggesting that there are at least some pleasures in an ordinary life, even one spent waiting for Prince Charming—or Prince Genji.—Jessica Branch