Opening up


Written and performed by Pandora Scooter
Stage Left Studios
Non-union production (closed)
Review by John Chatterton

Pandora Scooter’s Samuraization is a one-woman exploration of death. Scooter involved the audience directly through question and answer (“When did you first become aware of death?”), while rapping about her principal subject as it relates to her.

She tells a revealing anecdote. In the seventh grade, her class was assigned the task of performing a pantomime. While other students pantomimed sports or the application of makeup, she performed the suicide, according to the ritual of seppuku, of Yukio Mishima. (Mishima was a famous Japanese novelist who after World War II agitated for a return to traditional samurai values. To demonstrate their point, a small band of like-minded men occupied a military office. Mishima and his male lover disemboweled themselves. Each was finished off by beheading them, leaving their heads sitting between their legs.) No doubt her teacher had one of those Frankenstein experiences, when a pupil appears to have mutated into an unexpected life form.

One question-and-answer sequence involved audience members’ (“borunteers”) describing problems they were having. Her answer was intended to teach how the samurai would deal with the problem. Her typical answer was, “Confront your own death! Say ‘Hai!’ [‘Yes!]’”  The gist of the samurai approach to a problem is, presented with two choices, one of which might lead to death, choose that one. The reason is that it is overwhelmingly easy to choose the life-affirming way out, so deliberately choosing the other will balance the scales.

The Japanese-American Scooter’s trips into Japanese mannerisms and pronunciation were amusing, and more successful than her rap-influenced versifying. The latter proved especially unsustainable when she pretended to have fluffed a line, and then meditated aloud on the subject for a few minutes in rhyme. On the performance side, Scooter demonstrated a thin voice and a excess of weak hand gestures.

Stage Left Studios uses a light plot comprising small unshielded lights, some of which shone into the audience, creating discomfort. Barndoors in the right size would be an asset.

Not all elements of the show have gelled yet, but Scooter showed herself to be an engaging hostess and facilitator of group interaction.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2006 John Chatterton