The play watered down the book’s complexities, but a) it’s Takarazuka, romance and visuals will always be central, and b) simplifying certain scenes made Brothers K work better as a play. Fifty pages of Ivan philosophizing is fabulous in the book, where I could go back and re-read things, stop when my head got too full and start again when I felt ready, and read as quickly/slowly as I needed. But in a flowing, visual narrative, some things can be suggested instead of stated, and some ideas must be hastened lest the narrative turn jerky or dull. The resulting story flowed almost perfectly and none of Dostoevsky’s ideas were lost, even if some were reduced.
All the parts came together. The music! Ivan’s longing “Katerina” is full of agony and loneliness (Yumiko, it will always be a crime you didn’t make top); when the trial ensemble finishes, I’m always surprised my TV hasn’t blown up.
Musumeyaku show off, too. Aside from Tonami stealing every scene she had with her violent, unstable Grushenka and Nacchan's prideful Katerina going toe-to-toe with her, the little parts took my breath away. Suzuhana Lisa’s madwoman was so creepy she made me want to crawl up a wall and the malicious intent in Itsumine Aki’s “Hallucination” just about had me hiding under a couch (interestingly, she used male speech, but did nothing to hide her female figure).
That said, this era of Yukigumi had some of my favorite otokoyaku ever together. I respect how slimy Hamako was willing to make herself; she’s an incredible actress and professional, and gave us a villian to remember. Yumiko’s Ivan was, by turns, emotionless and cynical, then raving mad, and...she pulled it off. God, I hope I can see them both in new roles. Mizu, of course, was perfect for manly, sexy, obsessive Dmitry. ^_-
This is one I’m afraid of Zuka reviving again, because they have a habit of choosing troupes with the most popular top star instead of the most fitting troupe for such heavy dramatic material. I’d love to see it done again when a cast as perfect as this one heads any troupe--not just the top stars, but the leading four or five otokoyaku and musumeyaku, plus kumicho/fuku-kumicho and unusually quick-maturing babies for the small, but vital, background roles.
This also makes me curious about Resurrection. I know, Tolstoy, not Dostoevsky, but Resurrection is also a thoughtful work about morality and aristocratic corruption with some spectacularly disturbing scenes. I doubt we’ll get the visual of a little boy forced to sleep on a pile of human shit, clinging to the prisoner next to him in his hopeless search for affection, but we can hear some of the stories of Ran-chan’s fellow prisoners and Tomu’s horror when he discovers the abuse accompanying his aristocratic position.
And imagine the music, the dances, that can go with it! If they do it right it’ll be a lot of flash and style to fit Zuka, but with roots in the disturbed cruelty Tomu uncovers. Pretty but disturbing, in other words, marrying Zuka romance to the narrative like Brothers K did.
...Or, we might get a dull, talky wangstfest. Or sop that ignores everything political in favor of Tomu and Ran-chan making googly eyes at each other.
I’m on the edge of taking a trip to see this one. But I’m not confident of the results, not because Hanagumi isn’t talented, but because I don’t know how it’s going to be written/directed/staged.
Is anyone going to see it, or has anyone seen the old version? I’d love a report. :D