Stage Play Review: “The Bee” – A Tale Of The Macabre Starring Hideki Noda & Kathryn Hunter
A story of a vengeful Tokyo businessman who succumbs to madness!
Upon his return home from the office, salaryman (Japanese businessman), Ido, is met by an invasive media crowd who insensitively inform him that an escape convict is holding his wife and child hostage in his own home. Rather than letting the police deal with the situation accordingly, Mr. Ido decides to take matters into his own hands and plays the criminal at his own game by taking his wife and child captive in their home. A stand-off ensues leading both men to perform a series of sadistic proceedings on each others’ captive family members who are the true victims in all this folly.
Adapted by Hideki Noda and Colin Teevan, The Bee is a theatrical interpretation of a short story by Yasutaka Tsutsui and is an artistic success.
The first half of the play plays out as a rather peculiar piece of satire with the brilliant cast members, made up of Hideki Noda, Kathryn Hunter, Glyn Pritchard and Clive Mendus breaking out into song every now and then. The musical numbers and humour, however, lead the audience into a false security and the laughter in the auditorium gradually becomes awkward chuckling as the plot progresses into a twisted tale of the macabre.
The character of Ido is flawlessly played by Oliver award winner Hunter – a gender reversal role – who portrays the corporate worker with a persona, initially, liken to that of Reginald Perrin portrayed by the late Leonard Rossiter in the 1970’s TV series The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin. But Ido’s temperament soon manifests itself into a disposition compared to the characters Golden Age of Horror legend Bela Lugosi played in the Edgar Allan Poe inspired films The Black Cat and The Raven. Indeed, the overall feel of the second half of the play is very Poe-esque as we witness Ido’s slow spiral into madness.
On first scrutiny, The Bee can be seen as a play about a little man in a big world fighting against the judicial system that doesn’t seem to be working. Or else we can interpret it as a telling of something much more sinister, suggesting that we may indeed all have within us the capability to perform evil deeds when placed in extra ordinary circumstances. Clearly, Ido’s cruel intensions at the home of the criminal indicates that he is a man who doesn’t like to lose, which suggest that he is also a very ruthless businessman who fights to the very end, no matter the cost. No longer is he thinking about the safety of his captured wife and child – pride has taken over his sensibility; the situation has become a power-play between two deranged minds. Ego: Possibly the greatest enemy of humankind.
The Bee swept the board at the 15th Yomiuri Theater Awards 2008, winning the Grand Prize, Best Play as well as Best Actor and Best Director for writer, director and performer Hideki Noda. And deservedly so!
The poster, designed by Yuni Yoshida, is also worth mentioning as an outstanding achievement, encapsulating the theme of the play exceptionally well incorporating images of body parts and an everyday household appliance to make up the form of a large bee.
Sadly, The Bee has finished its run at the Soho Theatre in London but continues its 2012 World Tour in Hong Kong and Tokyo. So if you are in either place at the time of its showing it’s highly recommended you go see it. If you take pleasure in works of art that make you look within yourself and question your own morality, and you enjoy films like Cold Fish, then The Bee won’t disappoint.
Review written by Spencer Lloyd Peet (Administrator)
With special thanks to Haikugirl