Playing on the My Neighbor Totoro stage

The new stage version of My Neighbor Totoro from Royal Shakespeare takes place in London Barbican Center and it is … let’s put it this way.There is a grumpy anime director named Hayao Miyazaki, who is famous for monstrous people who give presentations that offend him.And through the “monster” I do not mean a friendly fur monster who loves rain drops, acorns and bitters.To raise the stake even more, Totoro is the most personal film film by Miyazaki, the one in which he regained his restless, terrified childhood and made them magic for the world.So trying to introduce Totoro on the stage is a real thing.

Directed by Phelim McDermott and written by Tom Morton-Smith, this Totoro has many tricks, but the main one is how he draws two very different things at once.He feels extremely faithful to the classic film from 1988 and is joyful, jokingly creative, as if he discovered what he can do, even while watching.That’s funny.Sometimes it’s just stupid;He has moments that could come from a really good pantomim.But then the game can change tons to something amazing, terrifying and even tormented.Totoro, not Panto, is more like dance, dance, which includes two little girls, mei and satsuki, black sootes, shy animals in the size of rabbits, and even a hedge full of corn (which spin around the choir of puppeteers in art) and fragments of houses that changeConfiguration on the turntable like giant puzzles.

For anyone who saw this movie, Totoros are what you are sitting and waiting for.How does art do this scene, this and that?But art rightly comes to the foreground, as it must;The whole miracle of the totors flows through them.And two actors – Mei Mac as Mei and Ami Okumura Jones as Satsuki – are great.You know that they are adult playing, and more precisely appearing characters, which are a fraction of their age, but they throw themselves into their roles with the same sense of discovery as art.They are funny, endearing, sensitive, brave, insolent and noisy.(Typical Mei line: “We saw a cow!”)) You can’t imagine them as girls from anime;You accept that they are Mei and Satsuki on the stage.

As in the film, Mei experiences the greatest moments, not only when he is crawling on some gigantic, furry stomach, but also later, when magic is nowhere to be seen and is more hurt and scared than any child should be.Next to her, Satsuki can only try to lead her as a good older sister – the art strengthens the moment when Satsuki beeoverwhelming emotions.But even when Satsuki tries to lead Mei, the irony is that the happiest moments of Satsuki are when instead follows Mei or when the girls spontaneously perform together.

Among the supporting cast is a boy from the village of Kanta (Nino Furuhata) – he looks at Satsuki from afar and behaves like preteen tsundere.Extracted for a comedy, he turned into a boy who is afraid to tell the girl one syllable.There is a pearl of a new scene, in which Kanta feeds the chickens of his home and somehow chickens connect to him (this is a psycho-teaching scene!) And there is a riot.Grandma Kanty (Jacqueline Tate) is also rounded.She is still charming, but with a slightly greater temperament and worry than he gave her film, and an additional detail that she once had a sister.The father of the girls, Tatsuo (Dai Tabuchi), is close to the film, but with more humorous stress is that it is about their responsible daughters who take him to work in the morning and keep order at home.He feels like Mirai Hosody again and as the dad’s harassed at home was shown there.

So people feel real.Totors feel as real as they should.I will not spoil the details about how Totoro is done, but it never seems to be a high-tech game.In Back to the Future: The Musical has no ostentatious stage machinery or video screen effects to transfer another recent adaptation from film to the game.But there are great creatures on the stage and this is something.Many effects of the game show exactly how they are done when you watch them.But there is one sequence that seems to last for a long time – certainly longer than the famous scene that you adapt to – which will make you think how the hell they do on stage?And this is a piece of theater that you will wear in your head for a long time.

Creatures often look stupid, but good.Mali Totoro appears all over the stage, like in the old Scooby-Doo cartoon.Gigantic creatures sometimes feel as if they emerged from a child’s drawing (presumably Mei), but it also seems right.As for the expression of the gigantic King Totoro, I remembered the first King Kong in 1933, in which the filmmakers used “real” natural props of natural size to emphasize the time -flying animation.Only now do you see giants on the stage, just in front of you.

But art often causes animation.While I described the names of art heroes, there is another set of performers.They are dressed in black, usually wrapped in black puppets, who are constantly in view, manipulate the scenery, hold smaller creatures or gather in groups to move or raise the large ones.It’s like a top -frame film from behind the scenes, in which animators tenderly move the models through which they play.On stage, sometimes puppets push and raise human figures.

If necessary, people also double, for example, to play with children in the Satsuko class.When they move the scenery, sometimes the girls themselves see the scenery moves, like in the arresting sequence in which Mei is lost in hedges that spin around it, and even “attack” her.If it were animation, it would be a more psychedelic cartoon than anything that Miyazaki would do.

Art goes beyond Miyazaki with sticks at the fourth wall.Several effects are somewhat “improper” in the case of deliberate gags.The puppeteer must be pushed by his teammate because he forgot to change into a character from the world to move the current scene.If these jokes were animated, they would be more Anardman’s animation than Ghibli.The performance contains several charming moments of what is basically an “animation” in low-tech technology, and will make older viewers remember cut television programs of the British studio Smallfilms, the creators of Noggin The Nog and Ivor The Ivor.Engine.

It is true that art makes choices that will not satisfy everyone.There is one key fragment of the movie in which you certainly wonder “how will they do it?”when art approaches.What the game actually does with this challenge is funny low-tech and very charming, but it disappointed me, like a child opening a gift and looking for socks.Or, to make another animation comparison, I felt like I was watching anime compilation towards the Great Battle, and the battle itself is only stationary images.It happened just before the break and made me feel slightly flat … and then the other half began with a different low-tech effect, and he delighted me so much that I immediately forgave this game.

No wonder that art extends the conversations that were in the film, and adds new.Some Japanese expressions are happily thrown into English dialogue, e.g. “Itadakimasu!”and yes!.More seriously, Mei and Satsuki are shown as very aware of tragic truths.I think that Mei is the first to raise the subject of death with disarming, unsweetened directness.Meanwhile, Satsuki knows too well that adults are lying about bad things and will no longer be lied to.

There is fear in the performance, but it is mixed with admiration and delight, especially when great, furry figures emerge from the dark background of the stage.The scene in which Mei enters the deep, dark forest, feels even more Alice in the land of spells than in the film, as if she entered the old woody woody.The departure of soot ghosts from a country house turns into a quiet, steady dance ball in the air.This is a long form of art, the equivalent of all these cushion shots in the film of snails on the blades of grass and leaves on the streams.

Impressions are intensified by the sounds of thunder, wind and heavy rain.Similarly, the orchestra, visible at the back of the stage, often playing variants of the film score of Joe Hisaishi.He is not afraid to play louder from time to time than the movie to add crescendo at times of crisis.Sometimes the soloist (Ai Ninomiya) sings both in English and Japanese, the most urgently when the child is missing, and the darkest dance of art is made against the background of deep, deep water.

I heard with my nose strokes in later art scenes, when the heroes are the most depressed, and so it should be.But at the end the whole audience got up in a cheering ovation standing up, tricks and jokes until the last curtain.

I saw one of the pre -premiere performances of art – the press evening is October 18.I paid for a ticket that was not cheap (85 pounds), although I managed to find the perfect place on the stalls close to the action.Do not get into this Totoro, expecting the miracle of a digital era such as Hatsune Miku’s concert.Go to great acting and set design, as well as common pretended and abundant amounts of stage fur.The biggest compliment that you can give this art is that you can imagine that this is the Totoro scene, which Miyazaki would make alone.