Hanafuda Denki

-A Tale of Fantastic Traditional Playing Cards-
2012 Oversea Reviews


FRINGE 2012 : Hanafuda Denki (A Tale of Fantastic Traditional Playing Cards)

14 Aug 2012

by Keira Farrell

‘I adore a funeral!’ the hostess of the show beams as the audience enter. A musical in Japanese with English supertitles, ‘Hanafuda Denki’ offers pitch-black comedy at its best.
Karuta, the daughter of a dead man who runs a funeral parlour and death service, wants to marry Kitaro. Problem is, Kitaro is alive and Karuta’s family are worried about offending their dead clients. Her father Danjuro sends a dead soldier to seduce his daughter into marriage and death, not necessarily in that order, and thereby begins a chain reaction of events which leave the audience wondering who is alive, who is dead, and what is meant by either term.
No one does visual spectacular quite like the Japanese, and the opening number of this show is dazzling. The performances and costumes are equally outlandish and exciting. Expect gender bending, great tunes and gallows humour. “What kind of death would sir like?” Danjuro asks his clients with a grin as the other zombies crowd around, desperate for a piece of the action. The references to the Japanese card game which inspired this work are a little confusing but it’s all swept away in the triumphant, creepy finale. A piece which will make the audience laugh, sing along and then leave thinking – what more could anyone ask?










Hanafuda Denki (A Tale of Fantastic Traditional Playing Cards)

15 Aug 2012

by Rachel Merrill Moss

Delightfully overwhelming from start to finish, this spectacle-driven production is an hour and change well spent.


The tendency of daughters to cavort with men who personify the opposite of what parents identify as winning qualities is timeless, culturally borderless, and seemingly inspires endless fodder for stimulating drama. Another installment of the story, this time a high-intensity Japanese adaptation of Threepenny Opera, fills the 2nd floor theatre of C Chambers to the rafters with color, cabaret-type crooning, and, of course, parental disapproval galore. Charming and bizarre (in the best way), Hanafuda Denki, plays now through August 18.


Danjuro lives a happy life as a famous funeral director in downtown Tokyo, specializing in offering the most comprehensive death menu around for those customers who haven’t yet figured out the best way to die in time for their own funerals. Being dead himself, Danjuro makes a fine death salesman. His daughter, Karuta, however, is less than smitten with the dead, and goes and gets herself involved with a living man (the horror!). Danjuro, along with his wife and band of dead buddies, must figure out a way to get Karuta to marry a handsome deceased man instead. Much conniving, singing, and dancing ensues.


Fantastically dedicated and beautifully decorated actors stream in and out of the action in this terrifically staged piece, pumping the intimate performance space full with nearly more energy than it can handle. Spooky and aesthetically delicious, Hanafuda Denki is an entirely enjoyable piece of entertainment.


(Hanafuda Denki plays at C Venues on Chambers Street, through August 18, 2012. Performances are daily at 12:55PM. Tickets are £10.50 (concessions available) and are available at edfringe.com. More information at http://music.geocities.jp/ryuzanji3/r-hana12)



















Edinburgh Fringe 2012 round-up
Wednesday 15 August 2012

by Gordon Parsons

Hanafuda Denki from Tokyo's Ryuzanji Company (C Venues) is publicised as a Japanese version of Brecht and Weill's Threepenny Opera. The message here, however, in this "nihilistic musical," is more philosophical than political.

The single prop is a standing coffin clock in Danjuro's House of the Dead funeral parlour, in which he helps his clients into the other world with gusto.

Like Mr Peachum in The Threepenny Opera, he and his wife are determined to thwart their daughter's marriage to the dashing thief Kataro, even at the expense of helping her into the land of death.

Unfortunately it all goes wrong when daughter Karuta kills her beloved so that they can be together.

But this is no grand opera tragedy. This dynamic cast in traditional costume handle an infectious score and swinging dance routines with enormous enthusiasm belying the questioning theme - isn't death better than life?

At least there is stability. The audience is helped through the confusing goings-on in this visually delightful show by clear super titles.

A grand finale has the company performing the game of skipping between life and death, finally holding out their hands. Any offers?

It is good to see Brecht back in town.

東京の流山児カンパニーによる『花札伝綺』 (CVenue)は日本版のブレヒト・ヴァイル「三文オペラ」とのこと。



舞台は団十郎が経営する葬儀屋「死の家」にある大時計の棺桶があるのみ ― 団十郎はこの時計を通って彼の客を別世界へ嬉々として案内する。



日本の伝統的な衣装をつけたダイナミックな役者たちが馴染み易い楽曲を歌い、桁はずれの熱意でもってパワフルに踊りながら観客へ問いかけ続ける ― 生きているよりも死んでいる方が素敵じゃない?と。











Edinburgh Fringe Review: Hanafuda Denki (A Tale of Fantastic Traditional Playing Cards)

15 August 2012

Written by Charlie Ely

In the world of Hanafuda Denki the dead seem to show just as much life as the living. Not only do they run funeral parlours and help people on their journey to the underworld but they sing and dance too, with morbid and energetic glee.  They are born entertainers and we are all apparently born dead. If this is sounding surreal already, it is only a dash of the madness to come. Perhaps the fact that Hanafuda Denki is the renowned Japanese, avant-garde writer Shuji Tereyama’s 1967 update of Bertolt Brecht’s 1928 Threepenny Opera, which in turn was an update of John Gay’s 1728 The Beggar’s Opera, goes someway to explain this bizarreness.

In truth, there are few similarities between this play and Brecht’s work, beyond the fact that they are both satirical musicals dealing with the underclass in Capitalist society, morality and death. Hanafuda Denki moves away from the Brechtian emphasis on politics; it is more of a nihilist critique of society than a socialist one.  One pivotal plot line is nicked from the original: that of a daughter falling in love with and marrying a man whom her parents not only disapprove of, but who is also an infamous criminal. The parents of Brecht’s Polly Peachum control the business of the city’s beggars and prostitutes, here they run a funeral parlour and are, in fact, dead. So is their daughter, maybe… its quite confusing. But don’t let that put you off – the exceptional ensemble cast are so entertaining that it doesn’t really matter whether you follow the plot completely.

The daughter’s love is still living and it is this that mostly attracts her parents’ ire; their view is that death is far superior to life. Hence, we see the father and his creepy, crazy staff trying to convince customers to die, often in song and dance format. In one delightfully impish number, a customer is invited to choose his kind of death from a long list including such kinds as “song death” and “erotic death”. The customer keeps shouting “money!” – he wants something even more spectacular for his dosh; the frustrated funeral director eventually grabs the wad of notes and chokes the customer with them, ironically suggesting that we get what we want in death.

The musical numbers swirl between Japanese classical music and modern pop songs, 1920’s American show tunes and Weimar Republic cabaret, all with lashings of satire and kooky choreography. As the show goes on the music does get a little loud and relentless. We are reminded somewhat of cringey karaoke whenever the microphone is used, though this is clearly director Saori Aoki’s intention. It also heightens the Brechtian alienation effect – which allows us to step back from empathy and critically reflect, in this case, on the ridiculous nature of humanity’s lust for life and death.

The use of gesture is so exquisitely clear that it seems hardly to matter that the performance is in Japanese (there are English surtitles). Some symbolism is lost in translation though; at one point, two characters reveal brightly coloured paintings on their backs (I believe it is a reference to classic Japanese playing-cards) and discuss their meanings – this went completely over my head. The show also does lose its way about halfway through and both the action and the message become a lot less clear. However, the costumes and makeup are sensational, a colourful clash of East and West, contributing significantly to this project of making nihilism fun. Ryuzanji Company have performed all over the world but this is their UK debut. I would very much like to see them return. 

****  4 stars


『花札伝綺』の世界では死人の世も生きている人々の世界と同じであるようだ。葬儀屋を営み、人々を死の世界へ誘いその道案内をするばかりでなく、ぞっとするようなそれでいてエネルギッシュな楽曲を嬉々として歌い踊るのだ。彼らが生きているエンターテイナーで、どうも我々の方が死人であるかのように。もしも、この表現が現実離れしたように聞こえるのであれば、それはこれから始まる狂気の世界のほんの序章にすぎないということをお伝えしておこう。1728年執筆のジョン グレイによる「乞食オペラ」の改訂版、1928年ベルトルトブレヒトによる「三文オペラ」。それを1967年に前衛的な日本人劇作家寺山修司が改訂したのがこの『花札伝綺』であるということを示せば、少しはご理解のお役にたつかもしれない。



三文オペラのヒロイン、ポリー ピーチャムの親たちは街の乞食や娼婦たちを牛耳っているが、ここでは彼らは葬儀屋を営んでいる。。そして、彼らは死んでいる。ということは娘の歌留多も、、、ここらあたりはちょっとわかりづらい。だが、そんなことには気をかけず、、、すばらしい役者陣が十二分に楽しませてくれるので、厳密に筋を追う必要はなし。














nytheatre.com review

Hanafuda Denki - A Tale of Playing Cards

Are you a winner or a loser in this life-and-death game? 

August 22, 2012
reviewed by Chris Harcum

As an American, it is an unspoken given that there are certain things you should never contemplate, such as what exactly comprises artificial sweeteners, how many hours you spend in front of your TV, the size of the holes in the ozone layer, and your own death. Our society is becoming increasingly designed to distract us from thinking about these pesky things. Fortunately for us, the Ryuzanji Company has come to our shores from Tokyo with Shuji Terayama's Hanafuda Denki, a lively musical comedy about a family running a funeral parlor called the "House of the Dead." This family also happens to not be alive.

Hanafuda is a Japanese game played with cards that are decorated with flowers or animals. Denki means "romance." And in this play, many turns of fortune happen when the daughter of the owners of the funeral parlor does the unspeakable and falls in love with a young man who happens to be living. This story is told in a style that mixes elements of Eastern and Western entertainment. This play was written in 1967, but is set in the Taisho Period, which was from 1912 to 1926. The structure gives ample nods to Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera. Frequently, the characters, and often the entire company, break out into contemporary-sounding pop songs, with performers taking turns at a microphone. They pull in a bit of the Takarazuka tradition of having a woman, the excellent Hiroko Ito, play the romantic male leading role. If I were to sum up the overall style it would be camp, possibly best exemplified by the funeral parlor's wife being played by a man, the equally enjoyable IWAO, sporting an actual beard.

I found it interesting that the characters would often say they were in hell, though they were basically in the same funeral parlor in downtown Tokyo that the living people would frequent. The dead were not so much on another plane or an alternate reality, but having to play by a different set of rules. While Brecht and Weill's play asks whether it's the robber of the bank or the creator of the bank who is the bigger thief, Hanafuda Denki begs the question of whether the dead are more alive than the living.

At times, I found this a little difficult to follow. 98% of the piece is spoken in Japanese. There are titles is English above the back wall. Claire Tanaka did a great job of writing a simple and clear translation that earned many laughs. Though the titles were timed with care and precision, I missed some of the story conveyed in the gestures or by what is written on the performer's expressive faces when looking up to read the content of their lines. But even during the few occasions when I was lost, I just had a darn good time.

I admire how solid and energetic the Ryuzanji Company's production is. Just three days after completing a week of performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, they drop in at FringeNYC for a week before going to the Victoria and Vancouver Festivals. To their credit, they didn't bring over an easy show to do. There are a dozen performers wearing elaborate makeup and amazing costumes by an uncredited designer. Daiko Ishimaru's choreography and Saori Aoki's direction require a lot of precision and cohesion from the ensemble. Plus, Makoto Honda's music, ROMI and Etsuo Yamagami's lighting design and Nanaho Unebe and So Suwa's sound design match the frequency and intensity of the stage movement. This show is a feast for the eyes and ears. And the entire company of actors does an admirable job of pulling off the mash-up of styles in this. They are all top-notch and so great to watch.

At the end of the evening, two of the members of the company stood in the lobby and bowed to each of the exiting patrons and sincerely said, "arigato." If this is hell, sign me up. Heck, I'll even become fluent in Japanese.







そんなわれわれのため、寺山修司の 『花札伝綺』 —「死の家」と呼ばれる葬儀屋を営む家族、彼らもそもそも死んでいるのだが、を描いた陽気なミュージカルコメディ ― を携えて東京からはるばる海を超えやってきてくれたのが流山児カンパニーだ。








死人たちは、別の世界に言及したり、交互に入れ替わる実体であるわけではないのだがそれぞれに違ったルールのもとで演じられる。ブレヒト、ヴァイル劇では大泥棒は銀行の強奪者であるのか、もしくは創造者であるのか、と問いかけるが、『花札伝綺』 では死者は生きている人間たちよりも生き生きとしている、と訴える。



流山児カンパニーのエネルギッシュでいてゆるぎないパフォーマンスには心底、感服する。エジンバラ演劇祭への参加後、3日後にはFringe NYC で1週間の上演を行い、さらにその後にはカナダで、ヴィクトリアとバンクーバーの演劇祭に参加するという。







(土曜日マチネ & 日曜日マチネ FringeNYC 2012にて)






The Time Out New York

Hanafuda Denki: A Tale of Playing Cards

Thu Aug 23 2012

By Derek Smith


“I adore a funeral!” utters a chic, pin-thin matron clad in black as she welcomes the audience to Hanafuda Denki, the Tokyo-based Ryuzanji Company’s adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. Performed in Japanese with English subtitles, this avant-garde interpretation is set in the 1920s, in a downtown Tokyo funeral home owned by a dead family; when their only daughter, Katura, falls in love with a living boy named Kitaro, patriarch Danjuro plots for a drop-dead-handsome nonliving boy to seduce Katura into the underworld. Though this crafty, raucous retelling sometimes struggles through a purgatory of muddled narrative and hellish humor, its bold concept provides ingredients for a well-balanced Brechtfast. Performed excitingly with a neo-Kabuki flair, the songs are sung into a single microphone passed around by the highly committed ensemble, who sing to kitschy, karaoke-like instrumental tracks that are funny and sometimes familiar (listen for Chicago's “All I Care About”). You might ponder the point at first, but stick with the show: A piercing revelation at the climax will haunt you on your way out. 

****  4 stars


東京から来た流山児カンパニーによるベルトルト・ブレヒトの三文オペラの翻案劇 『花札伝綺』 では冒頭、「わたしは葬式が大好き!」と叫ぶ細身でシックなご夫人が喪服姿で客を迎え入れていた。



ネオ歌舞伎的な調子で刺激的に演じられ、マイク1本をアンサンブル内で順繰りに手渡しながらカラオケさながらに流れる楽曲にあわせて歌が披露される―楽曲はときにこっけいで、ときには馴染み深い曲調のものも(ミュージカル「シカゴ」の「All I Care about 」のような)ある。まず最初に意味を探ってしまうかもしれないが、それよりもショーにの浸ってみることをお勧めする。クライマックスの驚きの新事実があなたをこの劇の虜にすること請け合いだ。


★★★★ デレク・スミス






New York Fringe Festival Report: ‘Hanafuda Denki’
August 23, 2012,


A riff on death and the sad game of living, “Hanafuda Denki (A Tale of Fantastic Traditional Playing Cards)” begins with a bang and a statement (delivered in English) that quickly proves true: “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s show time!” Cue the kick line and the first big brassy number, “House of the Dead.”

That’s also the name of the funeral parlor in Tokyo where the action takes place. And here’s the twist: it’s run by a family of very lively dead people. Even their cat is dead, we’re told. And so, for good measure, is their goldfish. Trouble arrives when the daughter of the house – “I hate the dead,” she proclaims
falls for a living boy, Kitaro of the Graveyard, and the two worlds, dead and alive, start mixing it up.

The brainchild of Shuji Terayama, a Japanese playwright, filmmaker and all-around artistic provocateur (he died in 1983), “Hanafuda” claims a debt to Brecht and Weill’s “Threepenny Opera.” That influence comes not in story but in style: the mordant humor, the catchy, poppy songs (by Makoto Honda) and the tweaking of social orthodoxies. “He was nice,” says Danjuro, the head of the House of the Dead, about a funeral client. “What a shame he didn’t die sooner.” (For a fee, Danjuro will supply the death as well as the funeral.) Not that being dead is all fun and games
a person is liable to miss the essentials of living: the racetrack, porn, brothels, prison.

Performed with full-tilt commitment and unusual discipline by the Ryuzanji Company, the show, directed by Saori Aoki with little flourishes of the grotesque, has rowdy, propulsive energy that almost never flags. It could use a few more moments of calm and a few less of high-voltage shouting, though a couple of songs manage a quiet melancholy, including one delivered by a dead boy killed by a train under a mackerel sky.

And about that train … watch out. Do you hear the whistle blowing? The dead want company, so you may want to sneak out before the end. Because it may be the End.


死と生きることの哀しい性をシャッフルした『花札伝綺』は音の一撃と英語によるこの一言で始まる「Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a show time! (ご来場の紳士淑女の皆々様、ショーの始まりです!)」そして、合図とともに賑やかな一曲「死の家」でショーの幕があける。


「死の家」は劇が展開される東京にある葬儀屋の名前でもある。そしてここがちょっとひねってあるのだが― 生き生きとした死人達の家族によってその葬儀屋は営まれている。そこでは、その猫も、金魚も死んでいるのである。「死人なんか大嫌い!」と宣言するその家の娘が墓場の鬼太郎に恋したことからやっかいが始まり、そしてこの「死」と「生」の2つが混ざり合い始める。
















Off-Off-Broadway Review :

 Hanafuda Denki : A Tale of Fantastic Traditional Playing Cards

Aug. 23, 2012,

By Nicole Villeneuve

What is “Hanafuda Denki”? The title alone, referring to a traditional Japanese card game, makes one worry that this import from Tokyo’s Ryuzanji Company will get lost in translation. But despite some puzzling references and a heavy reliance on supertitles, the ebullient spirit of the cast carries viewers away on a fantastical trip through the world of the dead.

Japanese avant-garde playwright Shuji Terayama premiered this loose adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Threepenny Opera” in 1967, transporting it to a funeral parlor inTokyoduring World War I. The result is a madcap mixture of Japanese ghost stories andWeimarcabaret; musical styles run the gamut from J-pop to jazz, all delivered with the same devil-may-care enthusiasm. With spectacularly outfitted cast members constantly swirling about the stage, director Saori Aoki creates a pleasingly controlled chaos. The players perform a seemingly impossible balancing act, remaining completely committed while winking at the audience, bringing them in on the fun.





出来上がりとしては日本のゴーストストーリーとワイマール共和国時代のキャバレー文化とが混ざりあった — Jポップからジャズまで、様々なジャンルを網羅したミュージカルで全てがご機嫌なテンションで歌われる −なんとも破天荒な作品に仕上がっている。見事に鍛錬された役者たちが忙しくステージ上を動き回るこの舞台では、演出家の青木砂織が嬉々としてこのカオスを掌握している。ほとんど不可能に近い見事なバランス感覚でもって演じる役者たち。確信犯的な演技を披露する傍ら、観客に向けてウィンクを投げかけ、客席を笑いで埋めつくしている。






NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday

August 24, 2012
By Hy Bender


A spectacular dark fantasy comedy that’s a bit like anime on stage; colorful, dream-like, overwhelming, and like nothing else you’re likely to see this year. It’s from an all-Japanese troupe (with easy-to-read English subtitles projected on the wall); and kudos to FringeNYC for bringing this amazing show to New York. Don’t miss your three remaining chances to see it tonight at 7:00, tomorrow at noon, and Sunday at 2:00 at the HERE Theatre Mainstage (145 Sixth Avenue; take the C/E subway to Spring Street): Hanafuda Denki: A Tale of Playing CardsAre You a Winner or a Loser in This Life-and-Death Game?


壮大なダークファンタジー、舞台上のアニメのようにカラフルで、夢のように圧倒的で、今年あなたが見たであろう他の作品とは全く似ていない。全て日本語の劇団(簡単な英語字幕が投影される)である。このすばらしいショウをNYに持ってきてくれたFringeNYCに称賛を送る。この『花札伝綺』、 NYで観られる最後の3回のチャンスをお見逃し無く。







FringeNYC Show Reviews

Rating: ****4/4

August 24, 2012
By Hy Bender


Hanafuda Denki is spectacular. Forget Fringe; this Japanese production is one of most colorful, cunning, and hilarious epics about life & death you'll see anywhere.


Fifteen minutes before it begins, there's a pre-show in which characters walk around like homeless people from another dimension, wearing costumes that appear as if they were slapped together with old newspapers and spit. It reminds me of the old Mad Magazine, which in its heyday had a circulation that exceeded Time and Newsweek, but in contrast to its glossy-paged competition was printed on cheap newsprint. This was a brilliant choice by publisher William M. Gaines, because it allowed kids and rebels to feel Mad was a rag that took on no airs, wouldn't hesitate to poke fun at itself, and would speak directly to them with the truth. Considering how formal Japanese society can be, the costumes carefully designed to seem cheap are an auspicious start.


Soon after, an unsettling woman dressed in black sits down next to various audience members and asks if they like funerals. Most say no. Their minds will soon change; but more to the point, the barrier between performers and story and safe observers is ruptured from the get-go.


After this oddball understated opening, the show opens with a burst of energy—and then continues to blaze with wild colors, extreme characters, absurd storylines, and insane song & dance numbers in a relentless assault on senses and complacency.


For example, one of the early tales is about a man who has a coffin custom-built for him. It fits so perfectly that he's informed he must not gain or lose any weight—i.e., the rest of his life should be devoted to laying neatly in this beautiful box. The metaphor for a world that has rigid protocols to follow from birth to death is a resonant one. So is the incredible musical sequence that follows in which the man decides it's better to give up the ghost right away before change ruins things, and is gleefully bombarded by the chorus with the dozens of different ways he can die (including "water death, hair death, and song death").


This is a show in which women play men, men play women, and the border between life and death is fluid. The artful theme, delivered in a variety of wonderfully nuanced and hilarious ways, is that we're never stuck. No matter what circumstances we're handed, we can choose to alter them—and end up a winner.


The message is reinforced by the charming contrast between the playful and seemingly relaxed surface, and the immensely thoughtful care and work poured into every detail of this perfectly executed production, ranging from costumes to music to choreography to the concise and easy-to-read subtitles projected on the wall.


While it's loosely based on Threepenny Opera, this is a show that's unique—not just for the US, but (I'm told by someone knowledgeable) for Japan as well. Extra special thanks and blessings to Elena Holy and the Fringe for allowing New York to experience this extraordinary production, which came to us straight from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival—and right after ifs five performances rushed off to Canada for additional fringe fests as part of a world tour.


I hope Hanafuda Denki makes it way back here for an extended commercial run. It has a fierce life and energy that rivals anything on NYC stages.


『花札伝綺』は何ともスペクタクル。フリンジだということを忘れて欲しい。この日本からの芝居は最高に華やか、でもって上手い、そこでは死と生に関する愉快なエピック- われわれの回りにも見られるような- が見事に描かれている。


開演15分前、使い古した新聞で作ったような衣装を着た役者たちが異次元からのホームレスのようにうろうろしている。その様子は, 全盛期にはTimesやNewsweekをしのぐ売り上げをあげた昔のMad Magazine (1952年創刊のユーモアを主軸においたアメリカの雑誌で、そのような華やかな売り上げ競争を展開していたにもかかわらず大手雑誌と違い安価な紙に印刷されていた)を想起させる。MadはWilliam M. Gainersの英断により発行されていた雑誌で奢ることなく、時には自らの雑誌を揶揄し、常に真実をオープンに伝えていた雑誌として子どもからリベラル層にまで幅広く、そして身近なメディアとして存在していた。












「三文オペラ」を大雑把にベースにした作品なのだが、この作品自体がとても独創的— これはアメリカ人の観客にとってばかりではなく、(事情通に聞いたところ)日本人にとってもそうであるらしい。この素晴らしい演目を紹介してくれたエレノア・ホーリー並びにニューヨーク・フリンジスタッフにお礼を述べたい。—エジンバラ・フリンジ・フェスティバルから直接われわれのフリンジに駆けつけてくれたそうである。またこのニューヨークでの上演5公演の後は世界ツアーの最終地としてカナダのフリンジフェスティバルへ行くとのこと。


私としては 『花札伝綺』 がまたこの地へ商業ベースの興行で戻ってきて欲しいと願う。力強くエネルギッシュな 『花札伝綺』 はNYのどの舞台にとっても好敵手となるであろう。





NY Overall Excellence Award for Design at the FringeNYC






Hanafuda Denki


By John Threlfall


Holy crap, what the hell is this show? It’s a slam-bang 75 minutes of surreal Japanese goth pop, that’s what it is. Imagine Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride by way of Tom Waits’ The Black Rider with a bit of The Rocky Horror Show mixed in, plus a few musical numbers that seem straight out of Quentin Tarantino’s last kabuki acid trip and you’ve got a bit of an idea what lies in wait for you with this wacko treat from Tokyo’s Ryuzanji Company.


With a cast of 12 acting out a mythic tale about a living dead funeral director, his dead clients and servants and the shame his only living daughter is bringing on his house by falling in love with a living boy—a dashing thief named Kitaro of the Graveyard (even though he’s alive)—all based on a traditional Japanese card game (Hanafuda Denki), the most surprising thing about this powerhouse production isn’t that it’s all in Japanese, but that it was originally written back in 1967. The projected surtitles translate the dialogue and songs, but that still doesn’t really help the story make that much sense—but who cares? Just go with it, and let yourself get swept away by the zest and gusto of this cleverly costumed cast.


I have no idea how popular this production is in Japan, but it has everything it needs to be big in Canada. If you’re looking for the obligatory wild and zany Fringe show, you’ve found it.


This house of the dead is very much alive and totally rocking out. I even walked home singing the final song . . . in Japanese, no less. Hanafuda Denki got a big standing ovation on its opening performance, and it absolutely deserved it. Crazy, baby, just crazy.


いったいこれは。。。何てすばらしい舞台なんだ!日本のゴス-ポップ満載のワクワクする75分間。トム・ウェイツのThe Black Riderとロッキー・ホラー・ショーを混ぜ合わせてティム・バートン監督の映画「The Corpse Bride」にのせたような。。。それでもってクエンティン・タランティーノ監督の最新作、歌舞伎ドラッグトリップ映画を思い出してもらえば、少しはこの東京からの流山児カンパニーのクレイジーなお宝作品の良さが分ってもらえるかもしれない。


生きながら死んでいる葬儀屋主人とその顧客、そして使用人たちに関する神話的な物語が12人の役者によって演じられる。主人のひとり娘が生きている男— 粋な大泥棒墓場の鬼太郎(生きているのに)− に恋したことから問題が発覚する。全ては伝統的な日本のカードゲームによる。もっとも驚かされたことはこの最強チームの演目が全て日本語で演じられているということ、さらにはもともと1967年に執筆されているということだろう。台詞も歌詞も英訳されて字幕に映し出されるのだが、それでも劇内容全てを理解するまではいたらないかもしれない、— まあだからといって気にすることもないのだが。





帰り道には最後の歌を口ずさみながら帰ったぐらいに。。。日本語で、ではないけれど。 『花札伝綺』 は初日で見事にスタンディングオベーションを勝ち得ていた、そしてそれは正当な評価だと思う。。彼らは狂っている、いやはや本当に。




Pick of the Fringe award at the Victoria's Fringe

CFUV’s Picks of the Fringe

Victoria Critics Choice Awards 2012


Vancouver Fringe Festival 2012 – Suggestions from the Victoria Fringe

Hanafuda Denki

– A Tale of Playing Cards – Ryuzanji Company
September 5, 2012
by Janis Lacouvee

Ryuzanji Company from Japan last appeared at the Victoria Fringe in 2009 with a Japanese version (surtitled in English) of High Life.  They were a huge hit with their madcap antics of junkies trying to rob a bank, despite the language differences.

Hanafuda Denki was written and first staged in 1967 by avant-garde pioneer Shuji Terayama and Ryuzanji have adapted it for a modern audience.

Are you a winner or loser in this life-and-death game?  Don’t miss this very Japanese retelling of a work inspired by“Three Penny Opera” – all the way fromTokyo.

From the moment the company appeared on stage I felt as if I should be applauding.  A highlight of this year’s Fringe for me. I only wished I had the time to see it more than once.


 『花札伝綺』 —流山児カンパニー



 『花札伝綺』 は1967年に前衛芸術家寺山修司によって作・上演されたものを流山児カンパニーが現代風に改訂した舞台。









Hanafuda Denki: A Tale of Playing Cards

- It's Cirque Surreal

September 8th, 2012

By Danielle Benzon


Hanafuda Denki only has three performances in total (last one is Sunday at 10:10pm) so get your tickets while you can! Imported from Tokyo, the experience of this show was so frantic, fantastical and fragmented that prose cannot do it justice. I recommend that you go and see it with your own eyes.


Failing that, I present you a review in poem form:


The lights are up, the players mingle

Newspaper crunch and haunting cackles

Lights go down and off we go!


Shocking and sensational actors crowd the stage.

Time goes. Tick. Tock.

Subtitles linger over heads that thrash and sing.


Sad macabre, dolls and princes

Gender is just the garb you wear.

I am confused, I am delighted

Slick in chaos, funny in fear.


Carnival and circus music,

Poetry and somber tones.

Nervous snickers, nervous laughter

Cabaret does death kids show.





 『花札伝綺』 は3回だけの限定上演(最終日は日曜日の22時10分開演)なので、今すぐチケットをゲットすべし。この東京からやってきた芝居を観たら思わず狂喜乱舞すること間違いなし。ぜひともご自身の目で確かめてみることをおススメする。



























CiTR Radio

September 10, 2012

By Maegan Thomas


Thus far, Hanafuda Denki blew my mind on the levels of creativity,
theatricality, humour, talent and pure delight. Way too much to process in one sitting, but in a good way. They have toured this show through Fringe Fests around the world, bringing both classic Japanese and Western theatrical elements together in fun and surprising ways. And don’t worry, if you don’t speak Japanese, there are subtitles.



 『花札伝綺』 は創造力、芝居の概念、ユーモア、そして才能、純粋な喜びに関する私の想定のレベルをくつがえした。






 CiTR Radio
芸術監督 メガン・トーマス




September 5th, 2012

by Ethan Kanfer


Like its eponymous playing cards, this opulent production (winner of a Fringe 2012 Overall Excellence Award for design) offers a banquet of colorful imagery to accompany its phantasmagorical story. Presiding over a Tokyo funeral parlor, deceased Danjuro (Kazuhiko Satomi), treats death like a game show. Instead of prizes, moribund contestants gamble to win the demise that best suits them. Of course, Danjuro wins every time: his ghostly village grows with each new arrival. But he’s not so skillful at controlling his rebellious daughter Karuta (Kanami Sakai) who has fallen in love – gasp! – with a living boy. This is a big taboo in netherworld culture. And to make matters worse, Karuta’s boyfriend Kitaro (cross-dressed Hiroko Ito), is known on the streets as a master thief. Danjuro and his wife (cross-dressed and heavily bearded IWAO) try to marry Karuta off to an eligible dead guy. Undaunted, Kitaro plots to penetrate the world of the dead, sabotage the wedding and steal Karuta’s heart. Has the wily Danjuro finally met his match? Let the games begin! Having toured since 2011, this engagingly ghoulish musical is among the most polished of the year’s entries. Whether Ryuzanji Company will enjoy an extended stay in the West is not yet known, but residents of British Columbia will have a chance to see Hanafuda Denki at the upcoming Vancouver and Victoria Fringe Festivals.




フリンジ後の上演機会は? その後のロングランに値する4つの演目





流山児カンパニーが西欧諸国でのさらなる上演を望んでいるのかどうかは定かではないが、少なくともカナダのブリティッシュ・コロンビア州に住んでいる人たちにはこの『花札伝綺』 をバンク—バーとヴィクトリアのフリンジで観る機会が残っているので下記のウェブサイトをチェックしてみることをおススメする。





The Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Fringe Festival: Capsule reviews

September 14, 2012

By Erika thorkelson


Hanafuda Denki

With only three dates at the Vancouver Fringe, this absurd, raucous, surprisingly hilarious musical meditation on death has sadly ended its run. But Tokyo’s Ryuzanji Company has definitely left behind a mark and hopefully they’ll return to Vancouver in coming years.