High Life: Cool, Clean and Crass
Written by Lee MacDougall of Canada, High Life was adopted and adapted by the theatres of Japan. It is Tokyo’s Ryuzanji Company that has delivered back to us this complete, polished and intoxicating theatrical parcel about ex-cons planning the robbery that will, finally, set them free.
Boasting four dynamic characters (disturbingly convincing in their roles as junkies) in a sparkling white kitchen, High Life manages a fine balance of splendor and grit. The audience is chuckling at its crudeness one moment—and cringing in silence the next. Pop music is incorporated to perfection here, capturing and contrasting the mood onstage to a strangely enjoyable effect. (Essentially, think Tarantino and then blend in a few seamless choreographed numbers.) This show is all about style.
The script, though witty at times, is nothing extraordinary; then again, maybe something was lost in translation. The play is performed in Japanese, with simple subtitles projected onstage above the actors. At first, it is difficult to juggle the reading with the action, but it isn’t long before everything flows together like a foreign film. Carrying the story is undeniably the physicality of the actors and the keen energy they maintain throughout the hundred-minute stint. Their commitment to their performance was palpable, earning them the better part of a standing ovation when they closed.
If you didn’t catch High Life before the end of its early run at the Fringe, you’ve missed a sensational treat.
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