Japanese corporate culture comes to life in PuSh Festival's "Hot Pepper"
The absurd musings of a generation dealing with office etiquette, their future and conflicts at the workplace get on the stage with Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and Farewell Speech brought by the Tokyo-based theatre company "chelfitsch” as a part of the PuSh Festival at SFU Woodward's Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.
The name of the company, founded in 1997 by acclaimed director and playwright Takishi Okada, is a neologism derived from the combination of the words “child” and “selfish”. The play is set in a minimalist stage and includes subtitles in English.
The play is divided in three acts, as the title suggests, starts with three “temp” workers (Riki Takeda, Saho Ito, Fumie Yokoo) debating during a coffee break which restaurant would be ideal to host a farewell party for Erika, a fellow temp who has just been laid off.
Later, another employee (Mari Ando) complains to her co-worker (Taichi Yamagata) about the air conditioner being maliciously manipulated and causing her to become painfully cold.
Finally, a confused Erika (a well-rounded Kei Nanba) starts her farewell speech thanking her coworkers and talking about her uncertain future, when suddenly she derails from the topic and vents about a dead cicada and mythical penguins.
Okada’s unorthodox and dark-humoured insight on office dynamics are skilfully deconstructed by the actors through athletic, exaggerated movements and strange contortions, juxtaposed with deranged, non-sensical and repetitive dialogue. Music by John Cage, John Coltrane and other pop melodies frame the performances.
Hot Pepper examines the problematics (which were "very serious" during the 1990s, Okada told the Vancouver Observer postshow) of the Japanese corporate culture and the job market. It also contemplates the elusiveness of white-collar 20-somethings struggling day by day in their cubicles while facing job instability.
Hot Pepper runs until Jan 28, 8:00 p.m.
For more information and tickets go to www.pushfestival.ca