I realized while writing this that it's pretty hard to write a report from a stage play such as this. During a concert, it's about the songs and what the members of groups did during them, but with a stage play it's all about the story. It's quite different from what I'm used to! But I did my best. Luckily, I realized that I knew enough Japanese to actually understand (hopefully) enough to follow the story without too much confusion and misunderstanding of events. Anyway, so this will be sort of a review of the whole play, more or less, with all the details I could remember and understand.
The curtains open on a scene where a woman, Nakata Naomi, is sitting by a table, looking at photographs of a man and a boy. Behind her the screen says "An evening in a possible future". A man visits her and urgently asks her to please evacuate her home just like everybody else is doing - it's not safe to stay in the area because of some kind of disaster. Apparently he's already asked her many times. But she refuses - she needs to stay at home in case her husband returns.
Then Ono (Miyata), who works for the missing husband, comes by. She invites him to stay for coffee, while asking the first man to leave. Suddenly, Naomi turns to her son Takuya who has apparently joined them, and she tells the men that since her son came home, there's a possibility that her husband will return too. The thing is - she's the only one who can see Takuya... Ono pretends to, but usually turns in the wrong direction. The other man is just confused. When she goes to the kitchen with her imaginary son the men start arguing - Ono says he can understand why Naomi wants to stay. But then he says that it's his fault that Naomi is acting strange and her husband is missing, but I couldn't understand why...
There's a very funny scene when Naomi returns with Takuya. She asks Ono to play with Takuya - and playing with an imaginary child is pretty difficult... But Miyata did some very funny acting here! Ono really tries to do his best to pretend that he can see Takuya, but fails miserably... The other man leaves, and Naomi says that next time Ono visits, Takuya wants to climb trees with him. They go to the window and look at an apricot tree standing in front of it. She says that Takuya loves that tree. Then Ono hastily leaves, saying he's got to go to work.
The decor changes, and Naomi is outside with Takuya, searching for her husband. She finds the head of a statue lying around and places it on a wall. Suddenly it starts talking to her, happy about finally being found. Then he asks her to please come with him and save the land of Kifushamu, a land inhabited by animal spirits and other spirits rather than humans. It takes some time before she understands what he talks about, and at first she things it's just a dream - but in the end she (and Takuya) goes with him to the fantasy land of Kifushamu (after her imaginary son says he really wants to go). They enter Kifushamu through an old washing-machine.
The scene changes to a man who is obviously a warrior and a leader, and some men and half-man half-animal characters who seem to be distressed about something. The man turns out to be Tachiaka, half-brother of the prince of Kifushamu. Then Irima (Miyata again), prince of Kifushamu, enters the stage. Irima and Tachiaka have a discussion of sorts, they don't agree on how the country should be taken care of. Suddenly the scene turns into a dance-choreographed fight between Irima and Tachiaka!
They are interrupted when the butler Tokofu (who was the statue head but has now removed his statue disguise) enters the stage with Naomi and introduces her to Irima. Irima realizes that she knows nothing about the situation, and Tokofu says that there was no time to explain it on the way to Kifushamu. Irima explains that he wants them to travel into the world of the dead, to find his father the king. Tachiaka and Irima start arguing again, and now everyone starts fighting with swords in slow-motion, until Naomi shouts to them to please stop, and she agrees to go to the land of the dead. But she wants to go with Irima, because Takuya is scared of Tachiaka, who is angry and yells a lot... But Tachiaka says that if Irima hasn't returned in one week, he will become the new king.
When Naomi, Irima and Tokofu start their journey, another of the men (who looks like a mushroom spirit) appears to warn them of the River of Forgetfulness - if they drink of its water they will forget everything and not be able to return. They reach the gate to the land of the dead, and meet the Grand Gatekeeper. Irima asks him to open the gate, because he has brought a human being, needed for them to get there. But the Grand Gatekeeper tells them they have to leave behind the most valuable possession of the most important person to be allowed to pass. They agree that Irima has to be the most important person, so he tries to leave his sword, Tokofu, his blood, and a medallion which is his memory of his mother who died when he was a child. But the Grand Gatekeeper refuses them all. Then Irima realizes that the most important person isn't him, but Naomi. She has to leave Takuya behind so they can enter - and going forward is their only choice, because the Grand Gatekeeper won't let them go back now when they came this far - his guards would kill them. Takuya asks if Naomi will meet Daddy, but she says she won't because she's going to the world of the dead, and Daddy isn't there.
The beginning of the journey through the land of the dead is illustrated by puppets and a storyteller, instead of the actors. They cross a river, a place with strong winds, a desert, a forest - and somehow Tokofu is always unlucky and Irima and Naomi are lucky.
Then they stop in the forest to eat, and the actors are back. Naomi and Irima start talking about his dead mother and his memories of her. Then he asks Naomi what her childhood dream was, and she suddenly remembers she wanted to become an author. She starts thinking that maybe this is not real and not a dream, but her own story that she somehow has ended up inside. Irima says that if that's the case, it's good, because then she can decide how it will end. He also tells her that his dream is to become the king of Kifushamu and make everyone in the kingdom happy.
When they get up to leave, they meet Keroberos, the three-headed hound. Keroberos tells them that in one direction, they will meet the king, but in the other direction they will meet the person Irima really wants to meet - his mother. And if I got it correctly, they need to go see his mother instead of the king. Something about telling lies... Keroberos calls for his three friends (a sphinx, a horse and a cow!) and they all try to stop Irima from going to see the king. Then they all start singing and dancing. Miyata joins them, and later also his two companions.
After the song, there is some kind of argument which felt like it was inside of Irima, and he again says that he doesn't want to meet his mother, that he hates her, and he throws the medallion on the ground. Keroberos asks if he can take it, Irima says he may - but when Keroberos tries to reach it, the back end of the dog costume points straight up in the air, and he can't reach the medallion. Hilarious! He asks for help - his friends go to help him - but end up in the same situation. In the end Irima has to pick it up and give to Keroberos. Then Keroberos says that Irima's feelings have changed, and they are free to go. Keroberos sings another song.
The next part of the journey is an animated movie on the screen. They pass a field of crying flowers, and then reach the River of Forgetfulness. The actors appear again, and find the king. The king is very happy to see them and wants to eat with them. But Naomi is suspicious - will they be able to return from this land if they eat anything from here? But apparently the king has drunk water from the River of Forgetfulness without forgetting his son. But somehow Irima knows that this king is a fake king, and strikes at him. The fake king disappears. They keep searching.
Back in Kifushamu, Tachiaka says that a week has passed. One of those loyal to Irima begs him to wait one more day, but he's killed. In the land of the dead, Irima finds his father, who asks him where they all are. He doesn't believe Irima when he's told they're in the land of the dead. But they explain everything to him, and he looses it and runs away. When they catch up with him he says that he won't stay dead - he will leave his son here and return to Kifushamu himself to rule again. It turns into a swordfight when Irima accuses his father of killing his mother but decides to leave and let it all be, and his father calls him a coward for running away from his troubles. But then Naomi talks to the king one-on-one, and convinces him not to kill his son. The king gives her a bottle of water from the River of Forgetfulness. The king gives Irima a shining stone of some sort, and they leave.
Again, they illustrate the journey with puppets instead of actors. But they walk and walk without getting to the gate, and finally Irima says it's his fault they are captured here, because he's been lying. Suddenly Irima's mother appears, and he cries to her that he doesn't believe in himself to become a king, and he wants to stay with her in the land of the dead, drink of the water to forget everything.
But then the king appears again, and Irima's mother realizes she wants Irima to rule and not the old king, so she tells Irima to run. They do, but then when Irima and Naomi are arguing about something, the king appears again and says that the person Naomi wants to meet is here in the world of the dead. And then her husband appears. Naomi and her husband talk, and Naomi says they have to get Takuya, so they should all return to the gate. But when they return and she asks for Takuya, she can't find him. She calls for him, but the husband makes Irima and Tokofu tell her that they never could see Takuya. But then she finds Takuya and starts talking to him. Her husband goes to her and says that Takuya isn't there. Takuya is in the land of the dead. But Naomi won't believe him at first. Then she despairs, she wants to drink the water and forget everything. Her husband and Irima stop her. There is another swordfight between Irima and the king, and it's raining, but Irima wins in the end. Naomi's husband asks her to go back, not to stay with him, and so Naomi, Irima and Tokofu return to Kifushamu. There they have to fight Tachiaka and his men.Tachiaka reveals that Tokofu has actually been working for him, not for Irima. But now Tokofu switches sides and fights for Irima. Irima wins, and Naomi returns to our world.
We're back at the house of Naomi. The man who visited her in the beginning visits her again. She looks out the window, at the blooming apricot tree. The man asks her if Takuya is there. Yes, she replies. He asks where. Here, she says and puts her hands on her heart. And then the flower petals start falling all over the stage...
Gosh, I cried during that last scene! Actually I also cried during the scene when Naomi's husband tells her that Takuya is dead and she realizes that she has been left all alone, but I cried even more during the last scene - because then it was both sad and beautiful, not just sad.
But even though the overall story was very touching, there were many funny scenes as well. Such as when they met the Grand Gatekeeper. Obviously the characters had a hard time remembering his name, calling him things like Goalkeeper and Housekeeper! The scenes where they were dancing and singing were also very entertaining! The dancing animals, LOL! Or the scene where Miyata kept doing moonwalk when he was trying to walk away from the others.
Miyata was so handsome as the prince! And he's a good dancer, a good singer - also a good actor. I really enjoyed watching him in this stage play. The only funny thing is how he sweats so much, haha! Poor guy...
Anyway, I was very happy to get to see this! And here's a handsome swordfighting prince Miyata. :3