Suicide Forest

Haruna Lee, Dawn Akemi Saito and Ako in Yi-Ma Theater Company’s production of Lee’s Suicide Forest at ART/NY’s Mezzanine Theatre. Original production photos by Richard Termine.
Five things to love about this weird exploration of Japanese culture!

By Andrew Andrews

In late 90’s Tokyo—represented by a tacky Victorian love hotel—an aging salary man fantasizes about his secretary and scolds his daughters for demanding their allowance, then molests a life-sized doll named Azusa that they’ve left behind in his office.

When he leaves, Azusa comes to life, haunted by the spirit of a dancing woman named Mad Mad who is rumored to live in the forest at the base of the national mountain.

As the salary man and his boss struggle to stay relevant in society, he repeatedly crosses paths with Azusa, who struggles with her own identity and the expectations of society as well.

Like a Japanese version of Twin Peaks, Suicide Forest is sometimes funny and sometimes disturbing as it expresses the playwright’s mommy issues and cultural and sexual identity crisis through fantasy performance.

And when it’s done being really weird, it gets really real in a “break through the fourth wall” kinda way—only to get weird again for the finale.

Of course, the more you relish bizarre theatre, the more you’ll enjoy this production… but the outlandish themes aren’t the only thing to like about it:

Eddy Toru Ohno and Keizo Kaji.

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Andrew Andrews attended Suicide Forest at A.R.T./New York Theatres Mezzanine Theatre in New York on Wednesday, March 4, 2020 @ 8:00pm to write this review.

Next Up:

La Construcción del Muro

Playwright Robert Schenkkan calls it a “wonderful production,” but I’ll give you 4 reasons I was a little less impressed.

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