Kazuko Hohki, Toothless Matters of Life and Death

Review in Issue 12-3 | Autumn 2000

This show, presented in an anti-theatrical style that relies on the natural quirky charisma of its writer/performer for its success, recounts the death of Honki’s mother, who – in what proves to be a handy starting point – was a leading religious speaker and entertainer in Japan. A mother who advocated a religious denial of illness and died of gum cancer; a mother who would seek to convince sceptics of her faith through the arts of the ‘invisible spinning plate’ and the ‘invisible tightrope’ (yes, it’s as crazy as it sounds) – is at the same time a gift of a starting point for a biographical show, and a figure of loss made all the more tragic for her oddity.

Hohki recounts her mother’s life/death story through a variety of deliberately low-tech devices: a series of crappy stick puppets, some self-consciously ‘hip’ multimedia video inserts, and a performance style that is both self-reflective and self-effacingly low key. Part of Hohki’s charm is her Japaneseness: she combines a love of the kitsch and the bizarre with a sly and intelligent wit and an open and formal style. But to attribute her qualities just to these cultural stereotypes does injustice to her skill in deliberately playing upon these traits

This is an engaging and often funny show. It is easy, honest and charmingly naive, and reveals the tragic absurdity, at the heart of illness and death, that is so often hidden or forgotten.

Topics
Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jun 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-3
p. 25