Japanese office workers going berserk: Toshiki Okada/chelfitsch

Tokyo, Tehran or Buenos Aires tonight? That’s one of the things I like about festivals: they allow you to travel without having to spend any money on a plane ticket. And so, out of sheer curiosity, I attended the Belgian premiere of Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and the Farewell Speech by Toshiki Okada/chelfitsch, during the Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels). It turned out to be a funny, entertaining trip. The set-up is fairly simple: just a table and four chairs and some actors. Three short, linked scenes, depicting office situations involving temporary workers. But there is no real story. I mean: it’s not aboút that story, but about what they do with it. The actors accompany their words with exaggerated expressive gestures, almost as some weird looking choreography, on music by John Cage, Tortoise, Stereolab and John Coltrane. At some moments all of this combined (the movements, the repetitiveness of the words and the music) gives these plays a strange, captivating ‘trance’-aspect (especially with the Stereolab-song and The Farewell Speech-monologue). Nice and light, but it could have been even a tinge weirder.

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