REVIEW: Showko’s JAPANESE PUPPET RAGUKO

Prepare to be enchanted!

By Myron My

I was surprised that I’d never heard of Rakugo theatre prior to this evening (considering I had lived in Japan for two years) so I was quite excited to witness The Butterfly Club hosting the number-one Rakugo performer in Australia, Showko (even if through her own admission, she is the only Rakugo performer in Australia!)

 Rakugo is a 400-year-old traditional form of storytelling involving a lone storyteller using minimal props whilst kneeling on a cushion. Movement, action and characters are all expressed through body language, voice and facial expressions. Remarkably, Showko only utilizes half the small stage of The Butterfly Club but is able to create a world twice as big in our minds.

Showko warms up the crowd so effectively that you don’t even realize the show has begun purely because you are mesmerized by her genuine excitement to be here and sharing with us the magic of storytelling and creation.  There are not many performers who can win over an audience with their opening line being about the joys of heated toilet seats.

In one hour, Showko manages to create an entire Japanese comedy show with puppetry, ventriloquism (and at one point, triple ventriloquism), song, bamboo magic and…monsters. The time and effort that has gone into creating the puppets is evident and Showko works wonders as she manages to bring them all to life with their own distinct personalities. I’m now on the hunt for my very own Cucumber Sushi Monster.

A few minor technical issues with music stopping and lighting changes requested took us out of the world Showko was creating for us, but such was her passion and charm that she drew us right back in.

By the end of the performance, there was not one person (I was watching) walking away without a smile on their face – perhaps Showko had really got everyone in touch with their inner child.

Date: June 14th, 15th, 16th  7pm/17th  6pm

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne

Tickets: $23 / $20

Bookings: thebutterflyclub.com

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