Theater Review: Yukio Suzuki’s ‘Volatile Body Theory’ (揮発性身体論)

Yukio Suzuki’s ‘Volatile Body Theory’ (揮発性身体論) at Edamitsu Theatre Festival: Review
Review by Matt Perkins, (Nov. 2012)

Once a year the Edamitsu Iron Theatre, a small community theatre in Kitakyushu, becomes the hub of a lively theatre festival. Their adventurous program draws dance and theatre professionals from all over Japan. Edamitsu is an unexpected place to find an adventurous and well connected theatre and the venue is not easy to find for non-Japanese native speakers. You are probably more likely to come to Edamitsu for ‘Space World’. Yet the Edamitusu Iron Theatre has carved out for itself a local niche a little more modest than the skyline slashing peaks of the roller-coasters. It was hard not to be infected by the obvious fondness the staff and the audience had for their theatre. After a little digging, and thanks to a performance arts website with listings for Fukuoka (Japan Contemporary Dance Network) I was able to attend a production by Yukio Suzuki’s company 金魚 (Kin-gyo – Goldfish).


Yukio Suzuki talking with two audience members after his performance.

Yukio Suzuki entered the space alone. As a spotlight slowly came up on the dancer he began to twitch. The lounge jazz soundtrack was frequently interrupted by unnerving metal percussion. The audience were never at ease. Suzuki moved in detail to each subtle change in the syncopated rhythm. He awkwardly mimed his way through scenes of city life. One moment found him grasping for the handles of taxi doors as they were yanked away from him, half dragging him with them. The production was incredibly physical and his sequence of contortionistic feats, the violent way in which he hurled himself around the stage, never let up for a moment.

Suzuki enjoyed playing, on several occasions, with his company’s odd name ‘Goldfish’. After collapsing in the middle of the stage, the audience heard the sound of bubbling water was played over the speakers, the kind of blue-noise you hear when you jump in the deep end. It grew louder and oppressive, more jacuzzi than fish-tank. Three light-bulbs steadily grew brighter. They were round, bulbous and old-fashioned looking things. Suzuki spent a long time enjoying one particular light. He moved less like a fish than an insect, handling this ball of light like an ant hefting around a precious breadcrumb. He held it in the crook of his knee before shifting it seamlessly to the space between his legs, tucked under his bum. He was quite something to watch when the light from the bulb, cradled in his arms, cast pincer-shadows around the small box of the studio space.

Towards the end of his first dance, Suzuki took up the bulb on its wire and began to swing it around his head. He slowly approached the audience with the bulb. The danger felt quite real. As he swung the light above our heads it seemed that the arrogant, frizzy haired dancer, in his dream state, might have done anything.

He was a show off but he was excellent. He was very forensic with his movements and you flinched whenever he touched the hot bulbs to his hand, his wrist, his bare neck. He cast himself, in this dance, as someone completely incapable of contact with others. This was fascinating because as a person he was extremely generous. Even during his bows he began talking familiarly with the audience and reminding them that, the next day, there would be a question and answer session and a workshop.

I still don’t know who the theatre is for. Edamitsu locals? The flotsam and jetsam who break of from tours of Space World? Perhaps more likely is that the community is pretty tight and that running the theatre is a tough labour of love. The space is also used for classes and workshops. Its a long way from the centre of town but the atmosphere and quality of the performances should make the journey well worth the effort.

There’s more information on Suzuki’s dance company on their facebook group.

The Edamitsu Iron Mall Theatre Festival is running until 23rd December.
Recommended performances:
Suho no shiroi uma mitaini ‘Like Suho’s White Horse’
Nagai Utage ‘The Long Party’

Matt Perkins:

I studied English Language and Literature at Oxford University and am currently studying Japanese at the Japan University of Economics in Fukuoka. I enjoy writing, directing and watching plays, theatre and dance. I am interested in learning more about Japan’s performing arts. As it can be tricky, especially with elementary Japanese, to track down the best shows I started this guide as a way to help English speakers stay up to date with what’s on. Keep checking the Fukuoka Now blog for up to date information about the performing arts in Fukuoka.

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