Ellen Stewart Theatre, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
66 East Fourth St.
February 29 - March 8, $35
“This story is very connected with the world at the moment,” Hideki Noda says in a promotional video for his wild and wacky farce, One Green Bottle, making its US premiere February 29 to March 8 at La MaMa. A presentation of Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre and Noda・Map, the show takes place over one crazy night during which a dysfunctional family faces massive strangeness as writer-director Noda tackles our selfie society, egotistical instincts, and rampant, potentially apocalyptic consumerism. Noda plays Bo, the father, with Lilo Baur (The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol, The Street of Crocodiles) as Boo, the boy-band-loving mother, and Noda regular Glyn Pritchard (The Twits, The Dark Philosophers) as Pickle, the young daughter; the chaotic set is by Yukio Horio, with lighting by Christoph Wagner, zany costumes by Kodue Hibino, music by Denzaemon Tanaka XIII performed by Genichiro Tanaka, video by Shutaro Oku, and hysterical hair and makeup by Eri Akamatsu.
Noda incorporates noh and kabuki into this tale that also features a pregnant dog, a deranged Mickey Mouse, and other unpredictable elements. The title comes from the repetitive children’s song “Ten Green Bottles,” which goes in part, “Ten green bottles hanging on the wall / Ten green bottles hanging on the wall / And if one green bottle should accidentally fall / There’ll be nine green bottles hanging on the wall.” Noda, who has also staged such shows as Pandora’s Bell, Red Demon, and The Diver, discussed his work in this succinct interview, which has been edited for clarity.
twi-ny: One Green Bottle was initially written for Japanese audiences in 2010, then adapted by Will Sharpe into English for British crowds in 2018. What kinds of changes, if any, have been made for the US premiere?
hideki noda: We perform according to the London version’s script. However, the direction will be more slapstick than the performances in London.
twi-ny: You don’t always appear in your plays. What made you want to be in this one, and continue in it through the iterations?
hn: An actor on the stage can see what a director in the director’s seat can’t see. Of course, and vice versa.
twi-ny: Selfie culture is a key theme in One Green Bottle. What is your relationship with selfies?
hn: I suppose that selfie culture will make the world self-destructive.
twi-ny: If someone wants to take a selfie with you, are you game?
hn: After the performance, if anybody asks me to take one with me, of course I am willing to.
twi-ny: Glyn Pritchard is reprising his role from the London version, but Lilo Baur is replacing the great Kathryn Hunter, who has been in several of your works, including The Bee. What kind of different dynamic does Lilo give the show?
hn: Kathryn has been working with Peter Brook at the moment. Although Kathryn is a great performer, Lilo is also an especially physically talented actress.
twi-ny: You’ve mentioned that La MaMa is important to you specifically. Why is that?
hn: Shūji Terayama, a Japanese legendary director who I respect, used to work at La MaMa. [Ed. note: The late Terayama brought several of his avant-garde pieces to La MaMa, and a memorial for him was held there in 1983 after his death at the age of forty-seven.]
twi-ny: A pregnant dog figures prominently in the show. Are you more of a dog or a cat person?
hn: I’ve been asked the same question, whether I’m a dog or a cat person, since I was a junior high school student. I have been bored with answering; I am a dog person.
twi-ny: Which of your works would you like to bring to New York next?
hn: I would like to bring a big production, such as Q: A Night at the Kabuki, which I just finished last December, to New York next.
twi-ny: While in New York, will you get a chance to see any theater? If so, what is on your radar?
hn: I have just one day off. Please recommend me any physical theater in New York besides musicals and ballet.