Monday, August 24, 2009

"White Tea" - Edinburgh Fringe 2009

"White Tea" by David Leddy and Fire Exit/Tron Theatre at the Assembly Rooms featured high up on our list of Fringe shows early on, as "Sub Rosa" remains not just a highlight of 2009 but one of our favourite shows of all time. And as we'd just returned from Japan and visited many of the same places, this Japanese influenced and based tale had a particular resonance.

Probably due to that recent trip I felt incredibly rude walking into the white clad room with its floor covered in tatami mats wearing my shoes - I had to actually check if they wanted our shoes off. However the audience participation was limited to donning paper kimonos and drinking the tea we were served at the start.

Set in a small intimate stark white space at the Assembly Rooms the performances of Gabriel Quigley as Naomi and Alisa Anderson as Tomoko are supplemented by projections of Japan onto the four walls as we follow the 2 women who despite their different cultures and backgrounds end up sharing a very intimate and personal journey. Naomi, the adopted Scottish daughter of a Hibakusha is summonsed reluctantly to her mother's bedside by Tomoko, her mother's nurse. Visiting her mother's homeland for the first time the three women involved in this tale are fleshed out in front of us. Although the history and culture of Japan are the framework on which this tale hangs, it's very much a story about mothers and daughters; of family expectations and secrets.

Like "Sub Rosa" we're treated to a production that is beautifully lit and devised, and memorable in many ways. However it lacked the magical quality that made "Sub Rosa" so wonderful. Perhaps it's because Naomi, for all her sadness and confusion, is difficult to like and any sympathy you feel for her story has to overcome that. I felt that only at the end was I actually getting to know the real people behind their facades.

"White Tea" continues at the Assembly Rooms until August 31st then tours.

Image used with permission.

1 Heckle

Statler said...

Like Sub Rosa, White Tea is essentially a puzzle with the pieces gradually revealed to us until they fit together to form a fully satisfying picture.

I'm not sure that the whole "Yoko Ono" elements of the show really worked for me, but it didn't detract from what was a visual and mental treat.