The Idiot – Saburo Teshigawara & Rihoko Sato at the Print Room at the Coronet
Like many works of a literary canon, Dostoevsky’s great novel The Idiot, and his personal favourite, is punctured by ideas and narratives delivered in a lengthy and complicated format that can risk distancing the feeling from the reader. Saburo Teshigawara’s soporific sculpting of the story brings not a bulky book to the stage but, as in his own words, captures the “impossibilities” of the book and the novel-form in general to communicate feelings beyond the capacity of words. This dance performance of the The Idiot speaks from between the words, depicting the innocence of the “idiot” Prince Myshkin, whose self-aware and empathetic character finds himself a stranger in the midst of a society concerned with money and power through manipulation and deception. The schizoid choreography – through poignant yet subtle gestures of the face with its silent screams and its pained laughter alongside the frantic hand gestures – perfectly depicts the epileptic nature of goodness. Ostensibly, goodness is not arrived at through plot and planning but is inherent in the fragmentary character of the idiot.
Teshigawara is joined on stage by his long-time partner Rihoko Sato, whose delicately nuanced gesture and shifting between the shadow and the light depicts the gloriously enticing madness of Nastasya Filippovna. The fierce beauty and intimidating personage of Nastasya’s innocence lost is captured in Sato’s fluid movement and the intricate dialogue with, against and isolated from Teshigawara’s love-struck hero. The “carnivalization” with which Mikhail Bakhtin read Dostoevsky’s novel is embodied in this celebration of Teshigawara’s choreography, direction, lighting, sound and costume design, which theatricalises the two central carnival figures of the idiot and the madwoman; though one could also read in this dance the presence of Rogozhin, whose torment by his love and obsession for Nastasya forms one of the love triangles in the book.
A third character joins the narrative but merely to slither in the shadows reminiscing DH Lawrence’s observation of Dostoevsky who is “like a rat, slithering along in hate, in the shadows, and in order to belong to the light professing love, all love”. It seems, however, that even the author himself could not foresee the plot and character relations that develop throughout the novel.
The performance of innocence and corruption in this entrancing dance that includes the Shostakovich waltz is a flawless reimagining of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. Do not miss it.
Photo: Abe Akihito
The Idiot is at the Print Room from 20th March until 30th March 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for The Idiot here: