Sexual Practices of the Japanese opens with actresses Manami Hara and Maiko Bae Yamamoto entering the stage as giggling schoolgirls, their pink kimonos open to reveal their wet dream school uniforms. They come right out to the audience and begin an informal survey based around the question “What are some things that come to mind when you associate the word ‘sex’ with the word ‘Japan?'” It’s a bold, funny and very successful piece of audience interaction that beautifully sets up the concept of the show which, through a collection of inter-connected scenes, monologues and musical numbers, explores the various idiosyncrasies of Japanese sexuality: the myths and the realities.
There’s something exciting and different about this show and you probably haven’t seen anything else quite like it this theatre season. The main stories told are those of a woman violated on a packed train, another woman sexually obsessed with Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki, and the evolving extra-marital relationship between two dildonics engineers. As is often the case with collaborative pieces (this show boasts four writers, two of whom are also the directors), there are some moments that work better than others, and some elements that don’t tie together quite as well as you’d like them to. But when it works, the marriage of physical theatre, gorgeous design (which you can take a bit of a peek at in their trailer) and fascinating subject matter is absolutely compelling. Hara and Yamamoto’s clownish schoolgirls and an absolute scream and their sequences alone are well worth the price of admission.
Sexual Practices of the Japanese plays at Factory Theatre until May 18.