By David Russell
What would a performance need to do to leave you stunned? How about have a group of frenetic, seething Japanese pop idols fling tofu and seaweed at you from the stage? That’s just one of the surprises in store for OzAsia Festival audiences going to Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker, which opens tomorrow night and runs until October 4.
The mystery around the Miss Revolutionary show has been fuelled by the incredible images of the cast that adorn the Adelaide Festival Centre and the backs of busses around Adelaide. To unravel some of that mystery and try to find out a little of what people can expect Inside South Australia caught up with two of the Miss Rev performers via Skype from a busy Starbucks in downtown Tokyo.
Company Manager Amanda Waddell was appropriately cagey. “Expect to see a show like you’ve never seen before… it’s an unequivocal culture shock.”
“The stage starts blank, then the cast give the audience props and tell them ‘please hold onto this, I’ll come back later’. Some don’t speak a whole lot of English… they’ll use boards (to communicate).
“The background music is all anime, pop songs and Wesern broadway music.
“We’ll be throwing tofu and seaweed, coloured balls, buckets of water… I would describe it as very organised chaos.”
Miss Revolutionary is the creation of 29-year-old director Toko Nikaido. Despite all the pop music and intriquitely choreographed dance, the show is made up entirely of actors, not dancers, and the performance is timed to a 10/8 count, adding to the madness.
And while the seasoned core group of four actors have taken Miss Rev on three European tours, the other performers that make up the 25-strong cast change and inject their own experiences into the show.
“When an actor joins the company, they are sent a long and personal survey, including questions about what they are talented at, what personal traumas they have experienced and all sorts of other highly personal questions… all that personal information is weaved into the show,” said Amanda.
Incredibly, one of the new performers in this tour of Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker is an Adelaidean who now calls Tokyo home. Clare Miyuki Kochiyama Guerin grew up in Fullarton and studied two years of psychology and Japanese at The University of Adelaide before going on exchange to Japan in 2011 when she was 19. In Tokyo Amanda started doing musicals, fell in love with the city, and decided to stay. She was specialising in English language theatre before landing the gig with Miss Rev.
To Clare, the opportunity to return to Adelaide on tour is a blessing.
“I’m super excited about performing in Adelaide. I’m really excited to be able to show my friends and family what I have been doing in Tokyo!
“Up to this point, they have only seen it on Facebook. I’ve been getting messages from friends and family saying they have booked tickets to the show.”
Clare said the preparation for the performance under director Toko Nikaido was intense.
“There is endless choreography… every movement is nuanced and has to be done perfectly… your arms need to be at certain angles, your head tilted a certain way, then there is singing as well… it can be a little scary during rehearsals.”
Company Manager Amanda agreed.
“One of the things to look out for is that Toko (Director) stands at the back of the audience on a ladder, furiously taking notes. What she is doing is writing down all the things the actors stuffed up – every minor error that the cast do. It’s a bit terrifying!”
So what’s the meaning of all this madness? While all the props on stage are “terrible mass produced things from dollar stores” and the world on stage is made up of “disposable crap”, Amanda says the show isn’t necessarily a condemnation of modern life.
“One audience member might be deeply touched, others will just think it’s crazy and not take anything from it… every reaction is valid. It’s about taking elements of that culture and regurgitating it back.”
For those that have tickets, don’t worry, rain jackets will be provided to those in the front rows to protect against that regurgitation. For those who don’t already have tickets, Miss Rev is sold out. There are still six more nights of OzAsia, however, and plenty more shows to choose from.
The Adelaide Festival Centre is a Brand South Australia member.