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Toshiki Okada's Enjoy at 59E59 Theaters

Land of the Rising Slacker
Carol Rosegg

Toshiki Okada's Enjoy takes place in a manga café in Tokyo, but its action would constitute only the shortest and most diffident of comics. Various employees shuffle into a break room and tell shambling stories in the third person. Indeed, the characters display ambivalence toward saying anything at all. As the play opens, a young man insists that he has to tell us a story. Then he reconsiders. "I mean it's not like I have to," he says, "but do you mind?"

Okada's virtually plotless piece, produced by the Play Company and the Japan Society, depicts a lost generation of Japanese workers, young men and women in their twenties and thirties stuck in dead-end employment. Pig Iron's Dan Rothenberg takes pains to animate these slacker longueurs. While one character speaks, others shuffle about in the background—grinning, grimacing, rolling on the floor. At more than two hours in length, the show noodles about like so much ramen and is often tedious, yet this structure may well reflect the purposeless lives of Okada's characters. As one man glumly describes himself, "Oh, this is the kind of guy who is ruining the future of Japan."


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