The first time I learned about child heroine Sadako Sasaki, I was nine years old and in the fourth grade. My teacher had just assigned Eleanor Coerrs Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and the U.S. was in the midst of the Gulf War. The true story of the young Japanese girl, who developed leukaemia ten years after the atom bomb dropped in Hiroshima, struck such a chord that I remember going to the library and teaching myself how to make paper cranes out of an origami book, a skill I still maintain to this day. Nearly seventeen years after I had that experience, PS Films has chosen to bring Kathryn Shultz Millers popular play, A Thousand Cranes, to Edinburgh and it is as poignant as ever.
In a slightly abstract format, Sadakos story unfolds from the initial discovery of her illness, known as the atom bomb disease, all the way until her passing. She is comforted often by the spirit of her grandmother, who was a victim of the bombs initial blow years earlier.
Despite the heavy subject matter, A Thousand Cranes is not about condemning wars, or even about condemning the way they can affect ordinary civilians. Instead, it is a story about the innocence and bravery of children and how, in many ways, they can be stronger and more reasonable than adults. While the performances are a little flat, (not to say they are bad actors Christopher Mack actually gives quite an impressive performance as a mentally challenged man in PS Films other production, The Boys Next Door), the visuals and the story manage to balance out the weaker aspects enough that it can be tolerated by adults. However, with a short run-time and a history lesson in tow, A Thousand Cranes is more perfectly suited for children.
Fritzie reviewed the Edinburgh preview of the show in New York at 59e59