OzAsia Festival Review: God Bless Baseball

‘God Bless Baseball’ portrays the history of baseball in Japan and Korea through a slow-moving and deliberate piece of theatre.

Presented by chelfitsch
Reviewed 30 September 2016

The OzAsia Festival provides the opportunity for Adelaide performing arts audiences to feast on the many cultural feats that Asia has to offer. Some of these suit well with Western tastes and others maintain a distinctively Eastern flavour that will hook in some but deter others. God Bless Baseball is the second of these two, portraying the history of baseball in Japan and Korea through a slow-moving and deliberate piece of theatre.

God Bless Baseball follows a Japanese man as he explains the many rules of baseball to two young women – one Japanese and one Korean. Alongside him is an imitation of Ichiro Suzuki, a famous Japanese baseballer, and an omniscient voice who outlines how baseball came to be. The show relies primarily on themes and streams of thought rather than a cohesive story. Whilst off-putting to some audience members, this is exactly the unique experience that OzAsia strives to achieve.

Individual performances and design elements are all strong. Each performer is well drilled in their part and masters the disjointed body movements and bare faces often associated with traditional forms of Asian drama. Even when the storyline becomes difficult to follow, these actors set a fantastic mood that encapsulates the audience.

Kyoko Fujitani’s costume design is simple and colourful which accompanies the plain baseball diamond set design very well. Above the set hangs a white disk which, towards the end of the show, is involved in a spectacular effect representative of the breaking down of American culture in Asia.

This is potentially the most difficult aspect of this show as it is fuelled by symbols and representations that can be difficult to follow and identify. Writer Toshiki Okada has used the theme of baseball in Japan and Korea to represent the rise of Americanism in these countries and the fear they face in attempting to escape it. Perhaps it is a concept not as readily understood by a Western audience but this idea was not entirely clear and leaves the audience with many questions.

In God Bless Baseball, Okada has created a conversation piece about the show itself and its inner message about culture. Undeniably something this slow and considered will not be for everyone, but the hard work of this cast make this experience worth living for those who are willing to take the jump.

Reviewed by Nathan Quadrio


More News

To Top