Cult Japanese classic Rashomon on countrywide tour
A dynamic stage version of the 1950’s Japanese cult movie Rashomon, prizewinner at the 1951 Venice Film Festival, is being presented by Storytellers Theatre Company in association with Cork Opera House from the 1st of April to the 15th of May at eight venues around the country, following its opening at Project Arts Centre in Dublin. Ivor Benjamin’s play is based on In the Grove and At the Rashomon Gate, two short stories by the 20th century Japanese writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa.
The play is set at the Rashomon Gate, outside the city of Kyoto, at a time when plague and famine have ravaged the city and reduced the formerly glorious gateway to a terrifying place of shadows, a home for thieves and abandoned corpses and an uneasy stopping place for travelers. Directed by Liam Halligan, the play concentrates on the lives of three integral characters, a noble Samurai who is slain, his wife, who is raped, and a bandit who is arrested and claims responsibility for the crimes. Intriguingly, his admission of guilt is disputed by both the Samurai and his wife. It is the job of the derelict travelers at Rashomon Gate to resolve the conundrum posed by the conflicting versions of the Samurai’s story. Their ensuing argument raises questions as to the nature of Truth, whether it exists at all and if it does, whether it matters in a world as uncertain and ravaged as theirs.
Liam Halligan’s challenging production features Malachy McKenna, Emma Colohan and Eoin Lynch. The haunting musical score is composed and performed by Dennis Clohessy, and the set and costumes are by Japanese designer Chisato Yoshimi. The fight scenes between the Samurai and the bandit are supervised by Paul Burke, fight director and martial arts specialist.
Continuing its annual tradition of presenting in co-production with Cork Opera House, major international classic stories in theatres throughout Ireland, Storytellers has selected its first Asian story in Rashomon. However unfamiliar and exotic the setting, the questioning of the nature of truth, will however, have strong resonance with an audience whose daily staple is the story of tribunals and the frustration of their outcomes.