Review: PEARL AND DAGGER, The Bandstand In Battersea Park

A concert version of a newly devised musical inspired by a Japanese folktale

Show of the Week: Tickets From £30 for WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTIONShow of the Week: Tickets From £30 for WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

This Sunday, Theatré Lapis presented their 30-minute concert version of newly devised musical Pearl and Dagger at Battersea Park's Bandstand. This is an outdoor, socially distanced adaption of the show performed at The Other Palace in 2019, and the concert is part of Wandsworth Council's Love Parks campaign, encouraging residents to enjoy their local space while also respecting it.

The original concept, music and lyrics are by Eden Tredwell, co-written by Nozomi Abe. Pearl and Dagger gives audiences an insight into Japanese culture and aesthetics, combining Western musical theatre and Japanese tradition. This is a creation by both British and Japanese artists.

Inspired by a Japanese folktale, Pearl and Dagger is the story of a young woman named Tokoyo, who is overcoming the grief of her deceased mother. Tokoyo embarks on a journey to a mysterious island where she fights an evil serpent and discovers the meaning of real bravery.

The music is beautiful and evocative, while effectively furthering the storyline. The premise is very interesting, however the intricate plot can at times be hard to follow due to this stripped-back concert setting. Although mostly sung-through, the short interludes of spoken script could be developed as they sometimes become repetitive and interrupt the pace.

The cast is small, consisting of five actors, but is by no means lacking. Juna Shai is the model ingénue as Tokoyo, who gains strength along the journey. Her pure and sweet voice could rival a Disney princess. Natsumi Kuroda, who plays multiple ensemble roles, is a standout with her strong character acting and physicality. Together with Kanako Nakano, Paul Reynolds and Sok-ho Trinh, the cast harmonise well and maintain commitment throughout.

Yojiro Ichikawa's direction is the perfect mix of static performance and symbolic movement for a concert staging. The use of minimalist materials and props to portray the evil serpent is clever storytelling. Much of the movement looks to be drawn from Japanese heritage, which would surely only be more captivating and theatrical in the full production.

Overall, a lovely experience, and a valuable opportunity to see a new and original musical. Pearl and Dagger is a show to keep an eye on for when it can return to theatres in its entirety.

Check out the Love Parks Wandsworth 2020 Programme

To learn more about Pearl and Dagger or Theatrè Lapis, visit their website

Image credit: Claudio De Luca


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