When we first meet JapJAP (Una Aya Osato) she’s a green blob projected onto a screen – rolling around joyfully and joyously. Cleverly, her projected image rolls from the screen in two dimensional form onto the stage in glorious 3-D. This is a device that Osato will continue to use throughout the performance, and it serves her well; enabling her to be multi-dimensional as well as keep her characters separate.
On the stage JapJAP is a lovable creature – childlike, unblemished, a sweet creation of unknown origin who says nothing but “JapJAP”, not unlike a Pokemon says its own name over and over. Clumsily, dizzily, happily dancing about in an effervescent homage to the unrestrained happiness that is an existence free of names, labels, classifications, designations and even further breakdowns, JapJAP appears to be content as is. Soon enough, however, she is corralled by the Left and the Right – played by Osato’s Left Hand and her Right Hand – clad in Blue and Red satin gloves respectively (and appropriately).
Immediately the Hands want to classify her, figure her out, contain her, and label her. What is she? They go to various body parts for help. The Stomach rumbles in mostly bits of Madison Avenue speak but grumbles just enough to identify JapJAP as a Jap . . . as in Japanese. There is some talk of internment camps ( despite protests of “that’s a part of our history we’d like to forget”). Soon enough the Hands decide to move on to pursue the matter further in a safer arena.
They then visit the Jewish twin sisters – Buubbie (played by Osato’s Right Breast) and Buubala (played by her Left Breast) who feel that JapJAP is a JAP – Jewish American Princess (though they’re not pleased with the term themselves). Regardless, they feel she must be Jewish. Talk turns to more serious matters as they delve into the topic of the political situation in the Middle East. While the topic is heavy, it is definitely lighten when delivered by two jiggling breasts with thick Jew York accents.
The more labels JapJAP is forced to own the more her innocence and freedom disappears – she literally becomes weighed down by the enormous history of the past which is being pummeled upon her.
It is only when JapJAP gets a little pep talk from her knees that all becomes clear, and she is able to shed the labels (as well as most of her cloths) and once again claim the inner spirit of who she really is.
Smart, funny, and well done JapJAP has all the elements of a great solo show. Osato is charming and delightful when mutely bouncing around the stage, but there’s no denying the deep thought she layered into her topic – behind that screen she’s all business. A consummate performer with the energy and nerve to confront not only the tough issues, but to deliver the raw power of her own body. All while teaching a strong lesson about labels. Highly recommended.
~~~JapJAP Written & Performed by Una Aya Osato & Directed by Moises Belizario Presented by Keep It Movin’ Productions New York, NY The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street) $15 Fri 2/25 @ 5:30pm, Sat 2/26 @ 2:30pm, Tue 3/1 @ 10:30pm, Fri 3/4 @ 7pm & Sun 3/6 @ 7pm
FRIGID New York Festival 2011 will run February 23-March 6 at The Kraine Theater & The Red Room (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Ave and Bowery) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1sr Ave and Ave A). Tickets ($10-$16) may be purchased online at www.FRIGIDnewyork.info or by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444. All shows will run 60 minutes long or less.