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You can’t stop the boats: Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea @ParkTheatre

Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea by Italian playwright Emanuele Aldrovandi and translated by Marco Young, has made a topical return to London at the Park Theatre after playing earlier this summer at the Seven Dials Playhouse. In a week when leaders and leaders in waiting were talking about illegal immigration, it seemed like a topical choice . It also has one hell of an evocative title. The piece opens with Adriano Celantano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol , which sets the scene for what we are about to see. After all, a song about communication barriers seems perfect for a play about people trafficking and illegal immigration. One side doesn’t understand why they happen, and the other still comes regardless of the latest government announcement / slogan .  However, the twist here is that the crossing is undertaken the other way. People are fleeing Europe instead of escaping war or poverty in Africa or the Middle East. It’s set sometime in the not-too-distant future. There is a crisis causing p

Grand designs: The Garden of Words @ParkTheatre

The Garden of Words explores what it is like when you're alone but surrounded by thousands of people. Projections, music and an engaging cast tell a unique story about an unlikely bond between a young boy and an older woman. The bond leads to a thoughtful and emotional journey about discovering yourself and being okay with that. After all, as the play reminds us throughout, people are indeed weird. Although being surrounded by peculiar people is probably good, it might make you feel a bit more normal. But that's not quite how the story pans out here. It's currently playing at the Park Theatre

The piece introduces us to Takao (Hiroki Berrecloth) and Yukari (Aki Nakagawa). They first meet one day, escaping from the rain in a Japanese Garden. He's skipping school, seeking solace among the birds and the trees, and she is missing work. It's a chance encounter that, over the seasons, becomes a friendship bonding over poetry, shoemaking and exciting choices in cooking and why eating beer and chocolate isn't such a great idea. And the events in their lives over the season bring them closer together.

While unfamiliar with the source material, this piece captures the time and place beautifully. It's at its strongest, exploring the relationship between the young student and the mysterious older lady. Berrecloth, as the young man, is mesmerising as we follow his journey. There's a nice touch where his drawings are on an old-style overhead projector, long disused as a teaching aid in schools here but seemingly pertinent as he learns from his older tutor.

Nakagawa, as Yukari, the lost woman with the red umbrella, is equally compelling as she moves from mystery to form a tentative relationship with the young Takao. 

Heightening the drama is the gorgeous use of projections to evoke the changing of seasons and the city of Tokyo. And a music score by Mark Choi helps maintain the atmosphere and focus. 

The Garden of Words is at Park Theatre until 9 September, directed by Alexandra Rutter. Worth a look, even if you're not too weird. 


Photos: Piers Foley Photography

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