FESTIVAL REVIEW – The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

*****

Stephen Earnhart and Greg Pierce’s adapatation of Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a technically-stunning and dreamlike work of theatre; where the worlds of reality, fantasy and memory collide onstage to create something unforgettable.

Toru Okada has lost his cat – and his wife. In his strange and portentous quest to recover both, he finds himself treading the paths of his own memory and dreams, as characters real and imagined accompany him on his journey. As the trail leads to his bullying politician brother-in-law, Toru pieces together the fragments to discover a terrible truth.

Using video projection, puppetry, mood-enhancing lighting and immersive, claustrophobic sound design, Earnhart has created something which at times feels like a new medium: blurring lines between theatre, art and film almost as effectively as Murakami’s tale of loss and identity mixes fantasy and reality.

An accomplished thirteen-strong cast of mostly American Japanese create the multitude of characters in this complex and multilayered work: sharing roles as they portray gameshow hosts, lounge singers and ex-prisoners of war. Complementing the piece, a live soundtrack is provided by experimental musician Bora Yoon, herself resembling an exotic bird in black evening gown and feather headdress as she uses piano and electronic instruments to conjure up a suitably atmospheric score.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is, at its core, an examination of how our lives connect: either through long-held relationships or via chance encounters. And, like these connections, Earnhart and Pierce’s stunning adaptation lingers in the mind long after we return from its creative vision into the reality of our own lives.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle runs until Aug 24 at the King’s Theatre

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