The Edinburgh Fringe attracts shows from across the globe, but rarely do international displays make the audience feel really transported. Japanese group Ship of the Ryukyu however provide an excellent window to traditional dance and song with Bottle Mail from Okinawa. The premise, a letter in a bottle from a ten year old boy in Okinawa, easily includes the audience within the spectacle.
Ship of the Ryukyu delightfully take down language barriers by warmly welcoming the audience with short narration between dances, in the form of the “bottle mail”. The narrator was not completely confident with her script, which was a shame to see any stumbling in an otherwise enchanting show. However, this is easily forgiven as she relishes in the excited mindset of the boy and presumably will improve on her lines as the run goes on.
The audience interaction did not feel forced or uncomfortable; instead, the musicians rise and greet everybody, before creating a wave across the theatre. The audience were happy to oblige, and it created a great sense of union between the performers and the spectators to the extent that we were clapping along joyously. It is this very unifying of cultures in the show which makes it so endearing.
The traditional dances are of course the life and soul of the show. Accompanied by lavish costumes and enthusiastic performers, they take the audience through the traditional cultural movements from Okinawa. We see labourers dance, alongside the ceremonies for children coming of age. The entire performance was like nothing I’d ever seen, especially the welcoming atmosphere from the performers. It’s an excellent hour for those of you who want to be transported across the ocean. A lovely mid-afternoon discovery. 4/5
Review written by Louise Jones.
Bottle Mail From Okinawa is currently showing at Spotlites at The Merchants’ Hall until Saturday 24th August as part of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information on the production, visit here…