The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

  • NY TIMES

  • VILLAGE VOICE

  • L&S AMERICA

  • TM

Opening Night:
May 24, 2014
Closing:
July 3, 2014

Theater: JACK / 505 1/2 Waverly Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Synopsis: 

The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise probes the everyday lives of urban adults. Everything seems comfortable – jobs, relationships. But beneath the surface runs a powerful undercurrent of longing. Sonic Life… is a quirky, dreamlike and poignant theatrical experience from some of the foremost theatre artists of the US and Japan.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise

    An Existence So Vanilla, It’s Stifling

    A War on Boredom in ‘The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise’

    Laura Collins-Hughes

    June 3, 2014: His secret is nothing terrible, just a thought that he’s kept private, but the man tells it bashfully: “I want to live more fully than I do now.” That’s the quiet wish of the restless 30-somethings in the Japanese playwright Toshiki Okada’s The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise, presented by the Play Company in Dan Rothenberg’s splendidly cast production at Jack, in Brooklyn. Spoken aloud in a corner of New York that’s home to artisanal everything, a yearning to break free of the day-to-day resonates differently from the way it would in Tokyo. There’s no taboo to be broken here. Who among us hasn’t felt that urge, and not so secretly? Mr. Okada’s characters — identified only as Man 1, Woman 1 and so on — are not suffering in any material way. They have jobs; they’re in relationships. The trouble, denoted by Mimi Lien’s cream and taupe set, is the colorlessness of their lives. Embedded in the paint scheme on the walls is a sort of graph line, mostly flat, with occasional shallow peaks and valleys.

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  • VILLAGE VOICE REVIEW OF The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise

    The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise Radiantly Pines for Something More

    Jacob Gallagher-Ross

    June 3, 2014: Now that privileged city dwellers have it easier than any humans did before, the problem of fulfillment looms larger than ever. Toshiki Okada's The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise, which the Play Company stages at JACK, examines the tormenting wish for more. The story orbits the yearnings of a young couple: He dreams his girlfriend is dead (it's not that he doesn't love her, he just wishes his humdrum existence could be infused with bittersweet nostalgia); she spends her days fantasizing foreign vacations she never takes. But real life is what's happening while they make other plans. Drifting with a daydream's fractal logic, the text passes among five actors, skipping between genders and perspectives. One moment a performer speaks from within an experience; the next, another describes the same scene from outside. The shifting viewpoints capture the chasm between inner urges and external realities.

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  • LIGHTING AND SOUND AMERICA REVIEW OF The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise

    Theatre in Review: The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise (The Play Company/JACK)

    David Barbour

    June 2, 2014: There are five people -- three men and two women -- on stage in The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise: youth is not the only thing that's sonic, but much of the time they represent a single voice, that of a youngish person who struggles, quietly and without too much strain, to articulate his/her deeper feelings and needs. "What I'm about to say is something I've thought about in my head, in fact something I've never revealed to anyone else before," we are told. The windup goes on in this manner for several more lines before we get to the heart of the matter: "I really hope my way of life improves compared to the way it is now." This is followed by more than a dozen lines of equivocation, to wit, the speaker is beginning to feel that it is really all right to express such desires: "There's a battle between saying things like that out loud, like 'for people to know that, oh, is that what's on your mind, is, you know, a bit much' and the 'but you should stop saying that because it's better to take a stand and tell the truth, just do it', and recently, the 'it's better to just do it side' has been winning." Assuming you can parse that last sentence -- to be fair, it is much clearer in performance -- there are two possible reactions to it, which, in turn, will guide your reaction to Toshiki Okada's play: Either you find it to be a subtly humorous revelation of a universal state of mind, or your attention will wander, allowing you to focus on your to-do list for the next day. In any case, do not expect drama: The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise continues in this fashion for the next 75 minutes, never really becoming boring yet always seeming to be on the edge of meaning something without quite getting there.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise

    The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise

    Pete Hempstead

    June 3, 2014: Toshiki Okada would like to share a secret: He wants to be a better person, despite the crushing malaise of the culture around him. That's the theme of his short play The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise: youth is not the only thing that's sonic, now playing at JACK in a Play Company production. Five characters drift past and occasionally touch base with one another in surreal, fragmented exchanges that reveal their desire to keep life from slipping past them. While some of the play's observations glimmer with insight into its author's mind as well as into Japanese culture, many of the whimsical scenes feel like disorganized meditations that you've probably had yourself at one time or another with a few boozy friends. Okada uses the five actors (Rachel Christopher, Susannah Flood, Dan Kublick, Jason Quarles, and Moses Villarama) as mouthpieces for dreams, memories, and thoughts on everything from what it would be like to have a dead girlfriend to mourn for, how great it would (or would not) be to travel, and whether one character (Okada himself?) fears his own mortality: "If I were to say whether I am afraid of dying, I'd say that I'm not particularly afraid at all... Do I look like an enlightened person? Or maybe I am actually suicidal?"

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The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise Review REVIEWS

Opening Night:
Closing:
Open Ended

Theater:

Synopsis: 

Toshiki Okada would like to share a secret: He wants to be a better person, despite the crushing malaise of the culture around him. That's the theme of his short play The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise: youth is not the only thing that's sonic, now playing at JACK in a Play Company production. Five characters drift past and occasionally touch base with one another in surreal, fragmented exchanges that reveal their desire to keep life from slipping past them. While some of the play's observations glimmer with insight into its author's mind as well as into Japanese culture, many of the whimsical scenes feel like disorganized meditations that you've probably had yourself at one time or another with a few boozy friends. Okada uses the five actors (Rachel Christopher, Susannah Flood, Dan Kublick, Jason Quarles, and Moses Villarama) as mouthpieces for dreams, memories, and thoughts on everything from what it would be like to have a dead girlfriend to mourn for, how great it would (or would not) be to travel, and whether one character (Okada himself?) fears his own mortality: "If I were to say whether I am afraid of dying, I'd say that I'm not particularly afraid at all... Do I look like an enlightened person? Or maybe I am actually suicidal?"

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