BWW Review: 893 | YA-KU-ZA An Intriguing Look Into Crime Syndicate World
Set over the course of a business lunch in a Japanese restaurant in an undisclosed U.S. locale, 893 | YA-KU-ZA follows Aya's (Mia King) bid to become the first female member of the infamous Japanese crime syndicate. A meeting has been arranged with a man known only as 1 (Kt Shorb) to discuss bringing Aya on board and what 1 expects from her. Daria Miyeko Marinelli's new play explores the themes of ambition, power, and loyalty, by asking what it means to be first and then examining what one is willing to do to get there.
This two hander is a mesmerizing look into a secret world most of us will never see. In Daria Miyeko Marinelli's tension filled script, silences and sounds are as important as the dialogue. The sound of soy sauce pouring into a small ceramic bowl, the staccato click of chopsticks hitting a plate, the ring of a cellphone, all serve to either punctuate or cut through the tension of this hour long meeting. Also as important as the dialogue are the long looks and silences that help define these characters.
Mia King, as Aya, is a study in stress and long side glances where we try to figure out what gears are furiously turning in her mind. As 1, Kt Shorb drips with both sarcasm and power, in an authoritative voice that has an almost hypnotic cadence. These two actors do a very intense verbal and also nonverbal dance that never fails to draw the audience in.
Co-directors Kt Shorb and Jesus I. Valles have created a world filled with tension and mystery. While it could have easily gone too far in terms of the silences, these two have stayed within the lines resulting in a pressure packed hour of secrecy. Iman Corbani's scenic design is a perfect reproduction of an authentic Japanese sushi house, which is nicely lit by Aaron Curry. Jess O'Rear's sound design works to support the atmosphere. Opening weekend, the fight choreography of Chris Tacderas came off as both highly staged and under rehearsed, with the two performers staying so close to the choreography that this key moment came off as the actors having fear of damages to self or costar. Hopefully they will relax into this so that it looks more realistic, as opening weekend this moment shattered the carefully built illusion that went before it.
893 | YA-KU-ZA offers a unique look at a secret world that moment for moment offers as much tension and intrigue as your likely to find anywhere in town. Though short in time, it is long on entertainment and well worth a visit.
893 | YA-KU-ZA by Daria Miyeko Marinelli
Running Time: One Hour with No Intermission
893 | YA-KU-ZA produced by GenEnco at The Vortex (2307 Manor Road, Austin, TX, 78722).
Fridays-Sundays, January 26 - February 10, 2018 at 8 PM.
Tickets: $35-$15, $35 Priority Seating, $25 General Admission, $15 Discount/Artist/Student/Senior/Veteran
Advance Reservations Recommended. Limited seating.
www.vortexrep.org or 512-478-5282
Live-stream on Howlround.tv Friday, February 2, 2018 8 pm CST
ASL-interpreted Saturday, February 3, 8 pm. Free for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences.
"Industry Night" Wednesday, February 7, 8 pm
Photograph: Errich Petersen