Review: Usagi Yojimbo at the Southwark Playhouse

usagi yojimbo

Year: 2014
Language: English
Director: Amy Draper (@amyrosedraper)
Adaptation from: 
Sakai Stan’s long-running manga「兎用心棒」 (Usagi Yōjinbō)
Script: Stewart Melton (@stewmelton)
Design: Ele Slade (@EleSladeDesign)
Lighting design: Joshua Pharo
Projection design:
Nina Dunn (@nina_pixelpixie)
Sound designer: Max Pappenheim (@max_j_p)
Casting director: Annie Rowe (@AnnieRoweCasts)
Fight director: Ronin Traynor (@RoninTraynor)
Soundscore: Hirota Joji (@JojiHirota)
Cast: Amy Ip (@amyip), Kuroda Haruka (@kurodaharuka), Siu Hun Li (@siuhunli) Jonathan Raggett (@JonathanRaggett), Tabuchi Dai
Runtime: 95 min (no intermission)
Official website: None for the play but Usagi Yojimbo (website for the manga) and Facebook page (manga)


Seen at Southwark Playhouse (@swkplay) in London on December 13, 2014. The play runs from November 28, 2014 until January 4, 2015. Details and ticket booking here. Suitable for ages 8+.

Note: All Usagi Yojimbo photos taken from the manga’s Facebook page (no photographer credited).

When I posted my first review on Otherwhere back in 2011, I never really thought about where blogging might take me. Three years on, there have been new-found Asian film fan friends (in London and elsewhere), plenty of screeners, invites ge previews, film festivals and even interviews, as well as the opportunity to do a photoshoot for GIGAN magazine a few months back with several London-based Japanese actors – one of whom was Tabuchi Dai. I have been following Dai’s work ever since and was instantly intrigued when, a few days back, he started posting images on his Facebook page from a play he was involved in: Usagi Yojimbo at the Southwark Playhouse. So off to the theatre I went.

Continue reading “Review: Usagi Yojimbo at the Southwark Playhouse”

Review: The Whole Hog Theatre’s「もののけ姫」(Princess Mononoke) Stage Adaptation

All images © Clare Boone of Whole Hog Theatre.
All images © Polly Clare Boone of Whole Hog Theatre.

Year: 2013
Language: English
Director: Alexandra Rutter
Whole Hog Theatre
Adaptation from:
「もののけ姫」(Mononoke Hime/Princess Mononoke, Japan, 1997)
Screenplay: not specified on programme or website
Concept arts and set design: Polly Clare Boon
Puppet design: Charlie Hoare
Soundscore: Hisaishi Joe, arranged by Kerrin Tatman for the play
Cast: James Blake-Butler, Lilith Brew, Adam Cridland, Oliver Davis, Andy Elkington, Jack Gyll, Jackie Lam, Amelie Leroy, Mei Mac, Miyake Yuriko, Jess Neale, Maximilian Troy Tyler, Victoria Watson, Samuel Wightman, Elizabeth Mary Williams
Runtime: approx. 130 min (including 20 min intermission)
Official website: (London performances),
(Tokyo performances – 日本語)

Seen during the play’s first run at the New Diorama Theatre in London. I attended the Friday evening performance. Further Princess Mononoke performances are scheduled for Tokyo (April 29 – May 6, 2013) and London (June 18-29, 2013). London tickets are sold out. 

Note: I provide no synopsis of the story here – this review presumes you are familiar with Miyazaki Hayao’s film already and hence is also full of spoilers.

How does one even begin to imagine a stage adaptation of an animated film of the calibre of「もののけ姫」(Mononoke Hime/Princess Mononoke, Japan, 1997), made by the masters of Studio Ghibli and well loved the world round? It is not a challenge that most – even those with plenty of experience and unlimited budgets – would want to take on, but the Whole Hog Theatre, a young performance company from Leamington Spa, England, with only a handful productions (Dangerous Liaisons, Constanzo and Five Kinds of Silence) to their name, was undaunted by the task and simply went ahead anyway. Continue reading “Review: The Whole Hog Theatre’s「もののけ姫」(Princess Mononoke) Stage Adaptation”

Review:「生きてるものはいないのか」(Ikiteru Mono Wa Inai No Ka/Isn’t Anyone Alive?)

Year: 2012
Language: Japanese
Director: Ishii Gakuryu (Ishii Sogo)
Adaptation from:
an absurd play of the same title by Maeda Shirō (前田司郎)
Screenplay: Maeda Shirō, Ishii Gakuryu
Cinematography: Matsumoto Yoshiyuki
Cast: Sometani Shota and others (see below)
Runtime: 113 min
Trailer: on YouTube
Film’s official website: (in Japanese)

Seen at the pre-DVD release preview screening organised by the Asian Movies Meetup Group at the Roxy Bar & Screen in London. Ikiteru Mono Wa Inai No Ka is next screening, in London, as part of the Terracotta Touring Programme on October 9, 2012. DVD release (UK) via Third Window Films will follow on October 22, 2012.

Adam Torel, the managing director of UK Asian film distributor Third Window Films, introduced Ishii Gakuryu’s latest work with the words that Ikiteru Mono Wa Inai No Ka sharply divides its viewers: they either love or hate the film. This may generally be so, but I found myself somewhere in between these two camps – I like the film, but I certainly don’t love it. Continue reading “Review:「生きてるものはいないのか」(Ikiteru Mono Wa Inai No Ka/Isn’t Anyone Alive?)”

Review: 왕의 남자 (Wangeui Namja/The King and the Clown)

Year: 2005
South Korea
Language: Korean
Director: Lee Jun-ik
Screenplay: Choi Seok-hwan
Adapted from a play by: Kim Tae-wung
Cinematography: Ji Gil-Wung
Soundscore: Lee Byung-woo
Cast: Gam Wu-seong, Lee Jun Ki, Jeong Jin-yeong, Kang Seong Yeon
Runtime: 119 min
Trailer: on YouTube

Seen at the Korean Cultural Centre (KCCUK) during the Lee Jun-ik (이준익) month of KCCUK’s Korean Film Night programme “2012: Year of the 12 Directors”. The review is about the extended version of the film, not the theatrical release.
It’s the final lines of Wangeui Namja that best sum up the film: All the world’s a stage. Date-wise the Shakespearean quote is a little misplaced, given that the setting of Wangeui Namja is the early 16th century Joseon, but As You Like It, where it is taken from, was written around 1599 or 1600. That said, the metaphor very likely preceded the Bard of Avon, if not in exact words than at least in its conceptual form. Continue reading “Review: 왕의 남자 (Wangeui Namja/The King and the Clown)”