“It’s like some weird avant-garde play”
Tumbling dreamily into the world of Japanese magic realism, Yukio Ninagawa’s spectacular production of Haruki Murakami’s novel Kafka on the Shore makes a sadly too-short stop at the Barbican, which is a real shame at it is one of the more visually striking plays of the year. Tsukasa Nakagoshi’s design of transparent boxes is the ideal vehicle for the swirling twin narratives of the story, in all their freeform strangeness as talking cats, murdered sculptors, Johnnie Walker himself, former pop stars, women’s toilet campaigners and much more beside come into play in Frank Galati’s adaptation.
On the one hand there’s 15 year old Kafka Tamura who runs away from his overbearing father and their Tokyo home with his imaginary friend Crow, ever dreaming of the mother who abandoned him as a young boy. And on the other there’s Satoru Nakata, an elderly gentleman who was afflicted by a childhood incident which severely stunted his development but left him able to communicate with cats. Stretching across Japan and delving effortlessly in and out of both fantastical realms and real life, their dream-like journeys slowly coalesce into one bewitching reverie.