Adelaide Fringe

Fringe Reivew: Sun & Crystal

The divine power of silence and imagination

The divine power of silence and imagination

Presented by: Art Group Seigai and The Garage International
Reviewed: 18 February, 2024

“Well timed silence hath more eloquence than speech.” – Martin Farquhar Tupper.

It may seem peculiar to use this quote by Martin Farquhar Tupper as an introduction to describe a Japanese theatre production having its Australian premiere at this year’s Adelaide Fringe, mostly because he was matter-of-factly from London. However, he is regarded as one of the most widely-read English-language authors of the 19th Century for his remarkable poetry. His message in the statement above fits flawlessly with this compelling conception of Japanese folktales created by Kazuko Shimazu and Hirono Yoshimura, as the narrative’s beautiful brilliance is derived from the use of silence.

Sun And Crystal begins in mostly darkness, a very faint light allows for some visibility as Hirono Yoshimura slowly and gracefully saunters to the stage. Effortlessly she ascends the stairs to the platform, holding a “sara” (dish) that contains an origami crane and a mask and when she arrives, she kneels. Kazuko Shimazu follows with her hands free and does nearly the same, but as she enters the stage area, she kneels where the dish lays; she then picks up the mask and places it on her face and receives the crane from Hirono, all with her her back to the audience. The mask is eventually seen when the traditional mirror is placed in front of Kazuko who then arises and begins to sing. This whole commencement until the chant is done in miraculous silence, whereas the smallest movement from anyone in the crowd or even outside, would be of siren’s capacity. The aura was brilliantly beyond hypnotic and it felt like the entire venue was balancing on a knife’s edge. 

The act concluded with elements of dance and a scripted monologue involving the description of the music and what the journey ahead would entail. The eloquent tranquility then takes over again and darkness envelopes all; a trance-like atmosphere is divinely discomforting and those there to witness the story, have been transported almost through time and universes to undergo this amazing adventure.

It is a complex tale of a myth revolving around a woman who was killed in a field of flowers next to a battlefield in another universe. A crystal has recorded this and many other important events that have transpired. The production is mostly based on the chronicle of finding this crystal that has been hidden away in a cave. Hazards such as beasts, unpredictable environmental events (the seas actually become still at one point) and other altercations are dream-like in description, and the witnesses become immensely lost and engaged in this perplexing saga. Essentially, a theme of the “apocalypse” arises and although this is fictional, the closeness to that concept becoming a reality is administered in this production in a truly phenomenal fashion.

To deliver this performance with only two actors and the use of dance, song, dialogue and a few props including a gong, mirror, cloaks and a flowered curtain seems an impossibility; but it is accomplished with majesty. The really powerful element used throughout that holds the attention of all who are willing to undergo this exploration, is the silence. It is beyond gripping and incredible. 

Reviewed by Will Oakeshott

Venue: The Garage International, Adelaide Town Hall
Season: One Final Show Saturday 24th February 2024
Duration: 60 minutes 

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