For his fourth production at Setagaya Public Theatre, leading playwright and director Yutaka Kuramochi returns to present his latest work, Osei Danko.
This new play follows Kuramochi’s previous successful production at SePT, a 2017 performance of Osei Tojo. The titular Mrs. Osei is a femme fatale who first appeared in the 1926 novella ”Osei Tojo” by Edogawa Ranpo (1894-1965), one of the masters of Japanese mystery fiction.
In that previous play, Kuramochi brilliantly blended eight of Ranpo’s short novels featuring the beguiling Mrs. Osei into an original dramatic text. This time, he has written an entirely new work. Osei Danko features the same heroine and retains the uniquely troubling spirit of Ranpo’s labyrinthine world.
Violinist and composer Neko Saito will create the music for this production, playing a major role in creating its unique atmosphere. Saito is widely known for his many collaborations with the hit Japanese singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Ringo Sheena. Kuramochi says, “Saito’s music will evoke the uproarious and chaotic mood of the 1920s, the period of transition between the Taisho and Showa eras.”
Kana Kurashina plays the title role of Osei, a morally flawed character who nonetheless works to bring scheming villains to justice. Kurashina’s ability to portray both innocence and steely-eyed conviction is a perfect fit for this part. She previously worked with Kuramochi in his 2017 play Dareka Sekini Tsuite.
Moka Kamishiraishi has acted in a wide range of roles on both stage and screen. In 2019, she appeared in NHK’s serialized historical drama Idaten: Tokyo Olympic Stories. In Osei Danko, Kamishiraishi plays the daughter of a wealthy family who becomes a victim of the nefarious scheme at the center of the play. Kamishiraishi portrays her as a young woman who appears at first glance to be the very portrait of a proper lady. But, behind that gentle facade, she has an iron will. This is the first time Kamishiraishi has worked with Kuramochi.
In addition, Kuramochi regulars Noriko Eguchi, Nobue Iketani, Yoshihiro Kasuya, Masako Chiba, Yuhi Ozora and Zen Kajihara also appear, along with Tomo Yanagishita and Bokuzo Masana who are working with the director for the first time.
Toward the end of the raucous and freewheeling Taisho era (1912–26), a female novelist named Osei (played by Kana Kurashina) lives in the mansion of wealthy aristocrat Chiyokichi Matsunari. Other residents of the mansion include Chiyokichi’s daughter (Moka Kamishiraishi), the live-in maid (Noriko Eguchi), and Chiyokichi’s second wife, who is constantly bullied by Chiyokichi and his older sister (Nobue Iketani).
Then a parliamentarian (Zen Kajihara) who has been humiliated by Chiyokichi starts to conspire with Chiyokichi’s second wife to get his assets by making it appear that Chiyokichi has lost his mind. At first their scheme goes well as the maid, the head doctor of a mental hospital (Bokuzo Masana), and a poor electrician (Tomo Yanagishita) all join in the plot. But then it all unexpectedly turns to horrific tragedy after the first murder happens . . .
Cast & Creative
Based on novels by Rampo Edogawa
Written and directed by Yutaka Kuramochi
Music by Neko Saito
Cast: Kana Kurashina, Moka Kamishiraishi, Noriko Eguchi, Tomo Yanagishita, Nobue Iketani, Yoshihiro Kasuya, Masako Chiba, Yuhi Ozora, Bokuzo Masana, Zen Kajihara
Comments from Members of the Production Team
Yutaka Kuramochi (playwright and director)
I wanted to write a story in which Osei takes an active central role. She is known as the femme fatale who murders her husband in Ranpo’s short novel “Osei Tojo”. However, I wanted to create an entirely new work of suspense set in the 1920s, in which Osei is thrust into the center of a complicated situation and takes action to thwart a villainous scheme.
So, I came up with the idea of an aristocrat who is made to appear mad by his family members. They get him sent to a mental hospital, so they can try to gain control of his wealth. Besides that, other characters also commit a variety of crimes. Then, Osei sets about punishing them all, according to her own unique moral outlook.
I take that basic plot and deconstruct it, examining the same actions from different points of view. The play presents a complex world, so the audience’s perceptions of good and evil are constantly shifting.
This is my second time working with Kuramochi. He really has a way with words. Whenever I see one of his plays, there are always lines that stick with me long after the performance. I love to watch his plays, and I also love acting in them. So, I do feel a little pressure to do his work justice. But, I was delighted to be offered the title role in Osei Danko.
I play the famous femme fatal Osei. I want to be conscious of what it means to be a femme fatale in general, but most of all I want to explore who Osei is as an individual. I am ready to tackle this challenge together with all the excellent actors in our cast, and I am convinced this exciting encounter between Kuramochi and Ranpo will bear fantastic fruit. So please come to see us at SePT!
I saw Kuramochi’s 2018 play Kasei no Futari twice, both because I love his work and also because my sister was in it. Kuramochi creates unique theater that people want to see again and again, and I wanted to be a part of that.
So, I was really happy when I was offered the part. I play the daughter of a wealthy family. The events of the play throw her life into turmoil. I look forward to playing this pure young woman who grows and transforms as she is swept up in a plot to get revenge.
SePT is a venue where plays can resonate throughout the performance space with quiet power, and I am going to do everything I can to create an impactful and passionate performance. I’m so excited for audiences to see the show!
◎= Post-performance talk will be held.※Holders of tickets for the performance may attend.
◆= Cameras will be installed in the audience area for recording purposes.
■ = Stage Explanation for People with Visual Disabilities
Advance application required. Free. Before the 14:00 performance on Sun 8 March, we will explain aspects that are difficult to understand without seeing them, such as stage settings and costumes. People with a ticket for this performance may attend.
Voice Support for the Hearing Impaired (Advance Application Required/Free of Charge)
Earphones are available at the theatre lobby for lending out free of charge to hearing impaired audience members. To borrow an earphone, after purchasing your ticket, please apply to the theatre no later than three days before the performance in question.
Applications and inquiries: Tel. 03-5432-1526/Fax. 03-5432-1559/Email. firstname.lastname@example.org
A childcare service is normally available for performances staged at Setagaya Public Theatre and Theatre Tram for which advance tickets are sold.
Charge: ¥2,200 per child
Eligibility: Children aged over 6 months and up to 9 years of age
Applications: Tel. 03-5432-1526 Setagaya Public Theatre
You may reserve childcare services up to noon of the day 3 days before the desired reservation time, but when the number of children registered reaches capacity, applications will closed. So please make your reservation well in advance. Also, please consult with the theatre regarding children with special needs.
Subcontractor: Kids’ Room Tinker bell Sancha
Both Setagaya Public Theatre and Theatre Tram are equipped with wheelchair spaces to allow visitors to watch performances from their wheelchairs. However, as capacity is limited, use of wheelchair spaces is by reservation only.
Charge: 10% discount on the corresponding area ticket charge (plus up to one attendant free of charge)
Applications: Tel. 03-5432-1515 Theatre Ticket Centre
Wheelchair spaces may be reserved up to 19:00 on the day before the desired date, but when the number of reservations reaches capacity, applications will be closed. So please make your reservation well in advance. Also, for wheelchair users who prefer to watch the performance from a regular seat, the theatre will smoothly guide them too and from their seat. Please contact the theatre in advance to take advantage of this service.