This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

11Jan/12

UNDER THE RADAR: THE BEE

Hideki Noda’s THE BEE centers on an intense stand-off between a salaryman and an escaped killer (photo by Masahiko Yakou)

Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Through January 15, $25
212-715-1258
www.japansociety.org
www.undertheradarfestival.com

On his way home from work, a Tokyo salaryman named Ido is shocked to find that his street has been roped off by the police. Swarmed by the media, Ido soon discovers that his wife and son have been taken hostage by an escaped murderer named Ogoro. Frustrated by the lack of help from the police and the insensitivity of the press, Ido suddenly decides to take matters into his own hands, leading to an intense stand-off in Hideki Noda’s brilliant experimental stage drama The Bee. Based on Yasutaka Tsutsui’s short story “Mushiriai” (“Plucking at Each Other”) and set in the summer of 1974, The Bee is a brutal examination of just how far one man will go to save his family. Kathryn Hunter is outstanding as Ido, her small body stuffed into a business suit, her nasally voice an excellent counter to Clive Mendus’s British Detective Inspector Dodoyama, Glyn Pritchard’s stuttering Ogoro, and Noda’s Japanese stripper, Ogoro’s wife. The latter three actors take on multiple roles, often going back and forth in an instant, with Mendus also playing a reporter and a TV chef, Noda playing a reporter as well, and Pritchard also portraying a reporter and Ogoro’s six-year-old son. The early fast pace eventually slows down as Ido heads over the edge, a simple family man who just wanted to come home and celebrate his son’s birthday but instead is mired in a violent psychological battle with a confused criminal amid a media-driven society. A hostage drama reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low and Archie Mayo’s The Petrified Forest, The Bee features unusually choreographed movement, particularly by Hunter; a translucent mirrored backdrop; and, as the audience take their seats, a Japanese version of the Eagles’ “Hotel California.” Vastly entertaining and, ultimately, extremely disturbing, The Bee is running at Japan Society through January 15 as part of the Under the Radar festival.

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