October 31, 2019

The Dark Master serves up a surreal, dreamy feast for the senses – OzAsia Festival

The Dark Master
by Kuro Tanino
Niwa Gekidan Penino
Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre.
October 29. Bookings 131 246 or
Tickets: $ 35 – $59. Duration : 90 minutes (no interval)
Until October 31.

A young backpacker steps into a run-down bistro in Osaka looking for a meal and his life changes. The misanthropic chef who serves him a delicious omelette persuades, cajoles and compels him to run the business for him.

Using a cordless earpiece (the audience also has a headphone link) he instructs the unworldly young man in the art of cooking, watching him from the attic through hidden cameras in the bistro. In no time our hero becomes a master cook. As the food is prepared the audience is savouring every aroma, seeing and hearing that his every move and culinary decision is dictated by the Dark Master.

Japanese writer and director Kuro Tanino is a leading exponent of the theatrical hyper-real. Like The Dark Inn, seen in OzAsia in 2017, The Dark Master is part fable, part dream play, part David Lynch surrealism.

Takuya Kamiike’s fastidiously detailed set is a simulacrum bistro complete with kitchen sink, superbly lit by Masayoki Abe. Susumu Ogata and Koichiro F.O. Pereira, as sorcerer and apprentice, give effortless performances, supported by a procession of customers, a sex worker and a sinister Chinese gangster.

Trained as a psychiatrist, Tanino is a truly original theatre maker seamlessly blending the literal, the psychological and the archetypal unconscious. His plays are funny, sinister, shocking; both unpredictable and inevitable. The Dark Master is another OzAsia highlight.

“The Dark Master serves up a surreal, dreamy feast for the senses”, The Australian, October 31, 2019, p.14.

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