What is higher than the sky? Father.
What is heavier than Earth? Mother
What is faster than the wind? Heart
What is the unending disease of man? Greed
These are some of the selected questions presented in the show--in a scene at the lake where Yama, the God of death, asked Yudhisthira before he can drink from the lake and make his dead brothers come to life after failing to answer to Yama.
You might not be able to relate with the story, but you surely are intrigued and amazed by the wisdom of just this five questions. What more could you have felt when you've actually seen the show.
It is such a pity that this kind of show went on just for a two night show. It could have been a blast here in Manila if it has been ran for say--a week or two at least. Well, I could say that I am a very lucky one to witness this production, and I could also say the same with the others who have seen it--considering the limited 400-seater black box theater of PETA Theater Center.
For a fact, Mahabharata is an Indian epic considered to be the longest epic poem in the world consisting of over 1.8 million words (imagine Homer's Iliad and Odyssey times 10 combined--that's approximately it.) In this production with director Hiroshi Koike, he divided the Mahabharata into 4 chapters with each chapter toured per year around Asia, beginning with Chapter 1 in Cambodia, and Chapter 2 in Indonesia and Malaysia, then the succeeding chapters that will be staged in Manila, China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea. This is a 7-year international touring production that started in 2012 in line to The Hiroshi Koike Bridge Projects' objective--to build stronger connections among Asian countries through performing arts. It is also a wonder for me that only Malaysia will be the only country to witness all the four chapters after its touring across Asia.
In collaboration with the PETA Theater Center, the venue is very much suitable for its production. Its being black box theater makes the performance more intimate and more engaging for the audience. They used no microphones or lapels which acknowledges every performers' vocal prowess. To further acknowledge the performers' skills, they have executed a refined body movements and dance routines that greatly resembles the asian culture. Not westernly influenced nor too modernistic, just an absolute asian culture. To move with great precision and powerful but controled body movements must require numerous years of experience in the field. And I am very much priviledged to have been an audience of these experienced performers.
Not only did they moved so powerfully, but they enacted the story so great that even with the diverse languages that they used, you really will catch up with the story. By the way, they used 5 languages for this production naming Japanese, Nihongo, Thai, English and a bit of Filipino. What's more, there were only 9 performers present on stage and there was more than 30 characters that were portrayed in the show. Jumping in and out of the character and holding so strong to their distinct characters, they have perfectly convinced the audience that they really are a superb actor. Imagine only a second or two to change whatever costume they had to change and then go for a different character, that's highly acknowledge-able.
Review by : Daniel Cruz
Edited by : Axl Guinto
Photo Credit to PETA Theater