The old Osaka Mainichi Newspaper building on Sanjo Gokomachi is a place I've frequented a lot over the years. The 80 year old building houses a number of shops, galleries and cafes and is recognised by Kyoto City as a Tangible Cultural Property. Although, to be honest, I've always tended to lurk in the basement and drink coffee rather than take the skinny staircase up to the higher floors. Recently, though I was given the opportunity to attend a show currently running at the 1928 ART COMPLEX, and was blown away - quite literally at times - by the performance.
The show is called GEAR and I entered with no idea of what to expect (other than my friend Chikako's recommendation that I take the kids along, as it was a bit of a "circus"). A circus? In Kyoto? Now that's not something you'd find in the Lonely Planet... I was still finding it hard to envision. A Big Top this building is not. We entered the darkened theater and were shown to our seats by the usher - the place was full. In front of our seats there was a clipboard with a pen, a questionnaire and a pair of clear plastic goggles. 3D glasses? I examined them quickly, but was a bit miffed to find out they were regular safety goggles - the type you would expect to receive on a factory tour... the plot thickened, but remained turbid. What was I in for? Looking down to the stage revealed a Dystopic system of winches and pulleys, which looked as if they were about to fall apart, and a giant mechanical fan bearing down on the audience. It was about this stage I decided to pick up the safety goggles and put my 3 year old son on my knee.
After a short introduction, 4 Wigglesque actors (dressed in red, yellow, blue and green) appeared from the back of the set and without a word began the show. The next 90 minutes were a non-stop ride of fantastic entertainment. I will not give anything away, suffice it to say that the performance of each of the 5 actors (the 5th providing the catalyst for the plot) outdid the last, the audience was constantly engaged and involved and were treated to some moments that left them wondering if those safety goggles really were playing tricks with their eyes. The entire show is without dialogue, but the sound effects are as much of a part of the production as the visual effects and the synchronisation of the whole show was faultless.
At the end of the show, as the actors left the stage and the applause died down, the audience sat still for a couple of moments, almost catching their breath - the children in the crowd were thrilled (the show is part Pinnochio, part Wizard of Oz, part Wall-E) and the adults obviously impressed at the sheer talent and ability of the actors. GEAR was indeed a spectacle, and a great show - goggles and all.