Review of "The Nosebleed": "Who here hates their father? "

“Who here has a father who is dead?” “ When it comes to questions raised by a show of hands for an audience, this one is quite persona...


“Who here has a father who is dead?” “

When it comes to questions raised by a show of hands for an audience, this one is quite personal. But when an actor asked it from the stage the other night during “The Nosebleed,” Aya Ogawa’s sweet and straightforward calculation of a play, many hands were raised.

Other questions for the crowd come later: “Who here loves his father?”

And, at least as relevant in this emotionally complex autobiographical spectacle: “Who here hates his father?”

To that, the four actors sharing the role of Aya – the playwright – raise their hands, as the character.

Directed by Ogawa for the Japan Society, which presents him with the Chocolate Factory Theater, “The Nosebleed” is an adult play about grief and remorse, disgust and legacy. Late treatment of the loss of a parent by a daughter who now has children of her own, it is a touched ritual of probing and cleansing grace: on the elements of the inheritance that are to be passed on, the pieces of poison that must be expelled and the missing pieces that it is too late to claim.

If this all sounds dark and – with the four Ayas – difficult to follow, it is not. Impeccably structured and lucidly directed, this play has a disarming sense of welcome and a down-to-earth ease familiar from the many English translations of Ogawa by Japanese playwright Toshiki Okada (“Zero Cost House“), which is known for its familiar immediacy.

“The Nosebleed” also contains wacky and psychologically insightful scenes re-enacted from the reality show “The Bachelorette”.

“Why haven’t you spoken to your father for two years?” »The bachelorette asks him for a date.

“Is it my responsibility to contact him and make sure there is a relationship there?” Said his date. “I do not know.”

In a press release on the play, Ogawa says it “relates what I believe to be one of the greatest failures of my life, which is that when my father passed away almost 15 years ago, I didn’t did nothing to honor him or his life. because of the nature of our relationship.

“The Nosebleed”, in which she plays both her father and her blood-nosed 5-year-old son, goes a little far to atone for this without sentimentalizing the past. The father she shows us is a phlegmatic and taciturn executive who immigrated from Japan to Northern California with young Aya and her mother, and considers his financial support to them sufficient proof of his love.

The gap between Aya and her father is therefore partly cultural. Having spent much of her childhood in the United States, she fits in there more comfortably than he does – though entrenched idiots like the character called White Guy (Peter Letter) find it hard to believe she doesn’t speak English. with an accent .

With sets and costumes by Jian Jung and lighting by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, “The Nosebleed” is a visually simple spectacle: a vessel for containing ghosts and regrets, and for deciding what to do with what a parent is. leaves behind.

With the four Ayas – Drae Campbell, Haruna Lee, Saori Tsukada and Kaili Y. Turner all formidable – and some volunteer audience participation, the performance becomes a moving community rite that welcomes both love and hate and locates the Filial Kindness for a generous send.

But what he cries most deeply are the questions of a deceased father that were not asked and the understanding that could have been.

Nose bleed
Until October 10 at the Japan Society, Manhattan; 212-715-1258, japansociety.org. Duration: 1h15.

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