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



(photo by Julie Lemberger)

Kuro Tanino digs deep into the unconscious mind in THE ROOM NOBODY KNOWS (photo by Julie Lemberger)

Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Through January 12, $28

Kenji (Ikuma Yamada) has quite a surprise in store for his older brother’s (Ichigo Iida) birthday in Kuro Tanino’s hyper-strange and fabulously entertaining The Room Nobody Knows. Running at Japan Society through January 12 as part of the Public Theater’s Under the Radar festival, the sixty-minute production is a surreal journey deep inside the subconscious and unconscious minds, a psychedelic Freudian trip through a phallic world built out of fear and desire, dreams and anxiety. A sculptor, painter, writer, and director from a family of psychiatrists who until recently was a practicing psychiatrist himself, Tanino (Frustrating Picture Book for Adults, Fortification of Smiles) sets his highly stylized, bizarre tale in a spectacular two-level horizontal apartment designed by Tanino and Michiko Inada. On the top, colorful Gaudí-style tiles line a room that a pair of worker elves with really bad teeth (Momoi Shimada and Taeko Seguchi) begin to furnish with penis-shaped chairs and flutes, while below, in a lablike white space too small for the characters to stand up in, Kenji, surrounded by scissors, experiment bottles, and four heads mounted on penises, studies for his university entrance examinations and awaits his brother’s arrival. When Kenji’s older sibling shows up, the two men give new meaning to the concept of brotherly love. Performed in Japanese (with English surtitles) by Tanino’s Niwa Gekidan Penino company — part of the name comes from his childhood nickname, Penino, which combines “Tanino” with “penis” — The Room Nobody Knows is a deeply personal and intimate piece, based on Tanino’s own life and memories. And what memories they are.

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