A man and his unseen companion in a tent. They’re hiking; trudging through the mountains to reach...somewhere. Tent puts on cryptic dressings to let the performer, Yuuya Ishizone, riff on life, its problems and Japanese living.

Tent has an opportunity for something wilder and less predictable, but it squanders that in favour of cheap remarks.

It’s a days-long affair. Ishizone climbs out his tent, looks around, whips out his iPhone and starts vlogging. But it’s not a sloshy recall of yesterday’s adventures—he’s terrified. He doesn’t know where he is, doesn’t know where he’s going and he doesn’t stop gabbling. Sounds a tad Beckett, but these lines lack atmosphere, let alone depth. It’s a cycle of platitudes that, like the journey we’re on, does not appear to end. The high rate of suicide in Japan is a topic of interest, and the protagonist brings it up, encouraging a belief that the show’s going to hit its stride. Then he discards the subject, without development or care, and it’s this all the way through.

Most trying of all, Ishizone isn’t a practical performer. When he records himself on his phone, for instance, he speaks as though the camera’s the only thing watching him. He mumbles and mistimes his words with an offbeat lack of technique. His thick accent doesn’t help him, which is not to say that his words are inherently indecipherable, but more that Ishizone lacks the self-awareness to make himself clearer.

There was a part in Tent when a camping lantern fell over. This was an accident, but Ishizone tried an ad-lib to make it jive with his story. Awkwardly, all he could muster was an imitation of a Jedi trying to make the thing stand upright. It was a quick improvisation, and it sheds light on the rest of My Complex’s piece. Tent has an opportunity for something wilder and less predictable, but it squanders that in favour of cheap remarks.  

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The Blurb

New contemporary theatre from Japan depicts the struggles anyone can experience despite their differences. Tent portrays our complex feelings about being an outsider in various ways. Set deep in the mountains, getting lost leads to camping overnight in a tent. When words come out and bring conversations, reality starts breathing. One question will arise. What have you been hiding? www.mycomplex.jp