Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Siro-A @ Leicester Square Theatre

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be trapped inside a video game? 

Japanese show Siro–A gives a pretty good impression, what with its mix of techno chiptune music, futuristic presentation and Japanese references.  There’s even appearances from Mario and Pikachu.

The name translates as “impossible to define” which is apt – this is more an experience than a show.  It’s like a modernised version of traditional Kabuki theatre, the four lead performers in white make-up and jumpsuits combining mime, dance and magic with 21st century technology and electronic beats.  Lights, lasers and projections dazzle the audience in a dizzying display of imagery that ranges from psychedelic futurism, to traditional swordfights out of a wuxia film and kaleidoscopic kawaii characters.  It's beautiful, fascinating and mesmerising all at once.

‘Box’ for instance sees the group catching projected images on handheld slabs and boxes, all intricately choreographed and precisely delivered.  ‘Ball’, meanwhile, is performed in silhouette, combining mime and a projected bouncing ball with hilarious effect.  And that’s just the start.  Dance moves are recorded as projections on a screen and gradually layered in bright, artful colours; western films are replicated through projected words and mime (Frozen was particularly amusing); and the four performers are joined by digital clones as they pop in and out of screens across the stage.  There is even some (somewhat embarrassing) audience participation.

Best of all, though, is a new sequence called ‘Phantomime’, involving video recording, projection and dance in a complex sequence that sees a man enter a haunted house where he is manipulated by a masked spirit.  It’s not only incredibly cool to watch, but reminiscent of fighting some sort of video game boss.  All that was missing was a controller.

The four performers are better gymnasts than they are dancers, though their physicality remains impressive.  And whilst they take their work seriously, there are tonnes of physical comedy moments and hilarious facial expressions.  The real stars, though, are DJ Kentaro Homma and video artist Daichi Norikane – without their incredible talents, the show would lose its unique selling point.

That said, there is nothing else like Siro-A around, however you choose to define it.  It’s an experience full of unique charm that could only come from a group of whacky Japanese performers.


Watch: Siro-A runs at the Leicester Square Theatre until 11th January.