taiko

Taiko Meantime: ‘The Legend of Dojoji’

Malvern Theatres

****

Dojoji fuses powerful drumming, haunting melodies, exquisite movement and stunning costumes to tell a dramatic legend – a story of unrequited love.

An optional pre-show talk is given by Rev. Shunjo Ono, head monk of the Dojoji temple. He uses a copy of an ancient script to tell the story of Anchin and Kiyohime, his modest and slightly cheeky presentation giving an extra dimension to the subsequent performance.

The story is one of unrequited love evolving into obsession. A fleeing monk (Anchin) is pursued by Kiyohime as her despair turns into rage causing her to transform into a huge angry serpent. The story, which does not end well for Anchin, allows the performance to explore various aspects of human emotion: love, humour, jealousy, pain and rage.

The main performance combines drumming, melodic instruments, voice and dance. The Taiko drums require significant strength and stamina to play and provide the powerful heartbeat to the show. This is especially true of a particularly huge drum played by a single drummer during the second half of the show.

The skillful Taiko playing style and traditional clothing along with specific forms of posture and movement give the sense of witnessing a martial art. The use of voiced calls and shouts punctuate and enhance the rhythms. The audience are also treated to a humorous interlude provided by four members of the troupe playing ‘throw the invisible ball’ with the use of small hand cymbals.

Throughout the show Chieko Kojima dances in a traditional Japanese style with a slowly opening parasol and dramatic facial expressions adding further emotion and description to the story as it unfolds. Towards the end of the show she transforms into a serpent in a very satisfactory manner.

Dojoji continue with their current tour around the country until 13th November. If you happen to be in the vicinity of Milton Keynes or Hornchurch before then, and especially if you have not experienced Taiko drumming before, I would recommend catching the Taiko Meantime show.

Dan Watson
8-11-16
 

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