Quick Cut: “Praise of shadows and darkness” – Complicite’s production Shun-kin

[Image Source: ums.org]

Director Simon McBurney in his director’s note for his Complicite theatre company’s production Shun-kin uses the phrase “praise of shadows and darkness.” He speaks of a time and a culture where beauty could be found in the concealed and in the unknown. The production is currently running through Saturday at Ann Arbor’s Power Center, presented by the University Musical Society (UMS) – ticket info and times can be found here.

In all transparency, this isn’t a review but more a shameless plug for Michiganders to go check out this remarkable performance that beautifully blends the theatrical and the cinematic. McBurney, clearly a student of Peter Brook (The Empty Space), fuses puppetry, sound sculpture, rear projection, a fourth (and possibly fifth!) wall smashed to bits, stylized movement to create a breathtaking stage allegory of age, gender, class tensions.

The show, based on a text by Junichiro Tanizaki, details an “almost-folk-tale” of the symbiotic relationship between a blind young woman and her devoted caretaker and of the tragic push-pull of a relationship that was both doomed and inevitably perfect from the start.

Thanks to Ken Fischer of UMS for including me in the opening night festivities, and, as a result, inspiring one of the few “high art” entries anyone is likely to see on this blog! I don’t want to spoil the surprises for you, so please check out this show. I’ve never experienced a performance that marries the visceral drama of a rock concert with the quiet, restrained soulfulness of haiku. This one does. Go see it. As UMS’ tagline reads, “Be Present.”


P.S. Enjoy fellow transplanted Ann Arbor-ite Nan Bauer’s take on the show here. A quote: “Throughout the performance, I had the feeling that it could suddenly make sense in an instant. It did, at the very end, a marvelous bit of drama that can only be achieved on a stage with a live audience.” Great piece!