Date: August 22, 2023 16:45
Posted by Joe
The stage play adaptation of The Garden of Words is currently playing in theaters. It is scheduled to take place from Thursday 10 August to Saturday 9 September 2023 at the Park Theater in London. We’ve been following the progress of this play since it was announced a few years ago, so of course we’d love to see the performance on stage.
The whole story
The Garden of Words is a stage play adaptation of the Makoto Shinkai anime play and the book of the same name. It tells the story of teenage Takao who stumbles across an adult woman, Yukari, in a garden under the rain. A unlikely friendship blooms between two lost people.
It was adapted by Whole Hog Theater into a stage specializing in the production of Anglo-Japanese productions. They have succeeded in bringing Princess Monoke to theaters so they are very familiar with the anime and its appeal.
We thought the Garden of Words would do well as a theatrical production, and Whole Hog Theater has done an excellent adaptation. They captured the anime roots of the source material, using stage projections to blend the 2D anime world and the real 3D world. The images acknowledge Shinaki’s color palette, favoring his brilliant yellow sunrises and sunsets, while effectively emphasizing the rain. Projection technique is not dominant because it is not used too much. It effectively sets the scene and the cut of the Tokyo skyline is particularly inspired.
What really surprised us was the announcement they were going to use puppetry. How can this be incorporated into a story set in the modern city of Tokyo?! Then, when we see it in action, we get excited and it makes complete sense. Traditionally, we wouldn’t reveal it to you because experiencing it is already half the fun.
The play captured the spirit of the anime and book version of the story. It acknowledges the hard and strenuous daily life of the city, the longing to be somewhere else or to do something better. Crowded train scenes are especially interesting because they playfully capture the feeling of rush hour in Tokyo. The play still carries Shinkai’s original melancholy, which has always been more prominent in works before his name, but it’s well balanced with humor in the right place.
While the original anime was about the meeting between Takao and Yukari, the stage play takes more material from the book and it allows it to fill in the other characters. The play is an independent work in its own right. You don’t have to watch the original anime or read books or comics to enjoy this movie.
The middle school story is well handled, balancing sadness but also mixing comedy and drama.
Making his stage debut, Hiroki Berrecloth captures the essence of lost Takao dreaming of an uncertain future. Aki Nakagawa plays Yukari as a woman who is clearly looking for a way out of her troubles. James Bradwell plays Takao’s older brother and delivers a bit of lighthearted humor as the straight, grown-up family member. Susan Momoko Hingley is having a great time playing the boys’ mother, showing up at home unpredictably.
All these elements come together to create a dramatic, romantic, humorous theatrical performance. You’re in for a highly entertaining evening that stays true to the original but also performs its own original in a different format. The Whole Hog Theater deserves credit for another win.
The Park200 stage at the Park Theater has a capacity of 200 people; leading to a rather intimate performance. You are all close to the actors, making the evening even more special. Anime and manga rarely get theatrical adaptations in English and it’s great to be able to see it in London. A performance of this caliber is well worth a look, regardless of whether you’ve seen the original material or not.
We recommend you to book tickets and watch the movie while it’s still showing!
If you want to know more about the play, you can read our interview with director Alexandra Rutter and co-adaptation of The Garden of Words theatrical version.
The play will run from Thursday 10 August to Saturday 9 September 2023 at the Park in London Theatre. Don’t forget the special cosplay night on Thursday, August 31, 2023.
Source: Otaku News