This is crossposted, because it's Of Interest to anyone who likes Shakespeare. Or is professionally interested in him and his works, even.
The Takarazuka Revue often takes on Shakespeare, but they usually do "shows inspired by", like Epiphany, or in the case of Romeo + Juliette, they adapt ready-made musical adaptations. This time, Fuji Daisuke, the director, went a different way: he took the new Japanese translation of Hamlet, and set it to music verbatim
, only moving around some lines. As a rock opera.
Since it was announced, I was in two minds. On one hand, I adore Takarazuka Shakespeare adaptations exactly because they play with the original text rather than do it verbatim. On the other, it's Takarazuka
- I was certain there would be sparkles. Then again, it's Hamlet. Hasn't it been done in every edgy and modern way possible? Musical included.
When the poster
came out, I was sold. With her makeup alone, Ryuu Masaki transformed herself into a fey, wild and yet regal creature. The red lipstick is to symbolise blood, and yet it's also Takarazuka-code for androgynity.
(I have several of those posters. They will be on the walls of my new apartment.)
The live reports and Sky Stage footage confirmed my impressions. Since Masaki is not-quite-second in Moon troupe, this show didn't make it to DVD, but thanks to noble efforts of dedicated fans, the Sky Stage recording now available with subtitles after covering the costs of blank disc and shipping.
Yes, it's that good. It's that brain-breaking, too.What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable,
in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!
the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals
—and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
Now imagine this sung by a leather-clad rockstar Hamlet with a chorus of enthusiastic cheerleaders - with golden pompoms - shouting "Crazy Hamlet!"
Oh, Revue ♥ And oh, people
. Because the same show has the single best Claudius after the play scene that I've ever seen. One of the best Hamlets. A hands-down fantastic Ophelia. (And I may want a Horatio of my own.) Each interpretation is layered and referential. They've seen productions, they know the story, and they've melded it into something of their own.
And at the same time it's Hamlet
. A Hamlet as told by Horatio, ghostly and fantastic and iconic. A Hamlet in which Ophelia is central (because it's Takarazuka, and because in Takarazuka, there is nothing by Love and Death). And a show with energy that goes through the roof. The recording was made on the final night, and though everyone is in high form, you can really tell they're falling over because of how much they gave. Voices are torn to shreds.( Kabuki Rock Hamlet - direction, music, sets, costumes )( And all the women merely players. Great ones. )
Someone on my f-list put it well: This is a good
Hamlet, period. Not for Takarazuka, not for a musical, for Shakespeare
. They could show this at any Shakespeare festival without any shame at all.