I went into this knowing nothing about what was going to happen. i didn’t google it, i didn’t even know what the performance was called or who Toco Nikaido was, my boy booked the tickets and demanded i go with him. i was handed a blue rain poncho and some earplugs, and we sat down on these plastic wrapped standard theatre seats.
i’ve been trying to navigate this review weirdly. i thought instead of telling you what i thought about it, i’d just tell you what happened; but i think if i did that, i’d miss telling you what i thought about it, what i liked what i think made me feel things etc etc. so for the first time ever, i want to write about a thing so badly, but i don’t have enough space, or words or time, there aren’t enough means for me to convey what this was. writing about performance is hard, i get it, Peggy Phelan calm down, i know that when i tell you it’s not the same as you being there watching it. but i don’t know how to approach this really. :S
i’ll describe it so you know what happened from my perspective and memory of it. it was half an hour or so, but it felt like five minutes. i spent half an hour screaming “OHMYGOD” because when the show started, it was 30 odd people on a tiny stage dancing madly, but completely in sync, with loud JPop playing, mad loud costumes, huge colourful projections on all the walls and glo sticks, glo sticks everywhere. it was fucking hyper. everything was hyper. There was a sequence where the rain ponchos came super handy and the performers got out water guns and huge buckets of cold water, and started hurling it into the audience.
there was an undertone of reference to Jpop culture, and the notion of fandom. the performers were holding placards and handmade signs and shouting on their flip-phones madly about something. but there was a weird power dynamic, one of mutual approval. it wasn’t like they were performing FOR us, it was like they were performing while we were watching, and the fact that i was witness to this whole thing was so fucking palpable. It wasn’t fly on the wall, dance-like-no-one’s-watching, the performance was aware of the audience. but it was so aware of the audience that the audience became aware of the audience. it wasn’t meta, meta feels like too crude a term. it was more subtle; more flavoured than spiced. it felt like we were being handled, our experience of this was carefully carefully being manipulated and that us being slightly aware of it was part of it: we knew it was going on, and that became it.
there were moments that felt fully for show. like, when you think something, some abstract act is slightly strange, and you want to analyse it, so you strip it back to the very basics and try it, and you see it for what it is, what the crux of it swivels on. you recognise how it behaves and how it’s deployed. you realise why it’s weird and you’re like “AHA, THAT’S IT” but it only makes sense to you, because you’re the only person who cares, or who understands the way stripping it down in that way works as a tool for transparency. and from the outside it feels weird. there were lots of moments like that, but added all together, they built a larger frame within which i could situate all these random acts. there was one moment where all the performers were holding plastic spring onions, with like, glosticks strapped to them and they were holding signs saying “SPRING ONION !!! <3<3” and it was mad, and funny, but also it left me with a taste in my mouth, like there was something else there. and the encore was the performers shouting encore, holding signs that said encore, pulling all the audience members on stage, and then leaving.
and when we were all up on stage, dancing and cheering as the encore finished, we noticed the performers had all left. so slowly slowly we all left the theatre. the performers were all waiting outside, screaming and clapping and cheering for us, like avid fans. and i got a tingly feeling that i was being handled. that the work wasn’t the dancing or the props or the spring onion signs, but rather the work was what it did to me as a viewer, the position it all put me in without me realising. I’ve never been so happy to be manipulated like this. i was just a little pipe cleaner, being bent into all these different shapes without realising i was part of a larger craft project. and it was amazing.
26th june 2k16, Zarina xoxox
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