We went yesterday to the Paramount to see "Love Suicides at Sonezaki" as performed by the Shochiku Grand Kabuki "Chikamatsu-za" troupe, who were on tour (two stops only!) visiting Seattle. I was excited about seeing a performance by a "living national treasure," but even more so just to see some real Kabuki again. I think it's just an exquisite theatrical form, and yesterday's show confirmed in my eyes that it's not just because it is beautiful to watch, a unity of the arts just as opera is (costumes/singing/music/dance), but also because it has a repertory of really good stories with compelling human drama. But the scene above, when the geisha stood on the porch of the tea house - with her robes cascading around her - and extended her tiny foot to just below the porch, where her hidden lover caught and caressed it, just broke my heart. It was a perfect moment, the action of the story swirling into this center, where two people stood united in their desire to be together. I could really see the Bunraku origins of this story in the staging of this scene, with Tokubei shaking with rage and frustration under the landing, and the geisha standing and addressing his seated enemy (who was bragging about how he would be her next patron).
Of course I wanted them to wake up and realize that there would be no paradise where they could meet again, that by ending their lives they ended any opportunity they would have for happiness, but it was not to be so. There was a delicious joy, however, in not seeing Hollywood traditions adhered to, in having the uncle's plea to find and save his nephew fall on fate's deaf ears, in knowing that a play called "Love Suicides" would have no deus ex machina sweeping down to force a happy ending. This gave me room to relax and enjoy seeing the star-crossed lovers' last night together, as the narrator sang their final hours to us:
Farewell this world! Farewell this night! To what shall we compare ourselves? To the frost on the road to the graveyard, that vanishes with every step we take.