Unfortunately tomorrow (Saturday 10 August) is the last day that Sadako will be showing at the Baxter Theatre, so most people who read this probably won’t get to see it before the show heads off to France. With a bit of luck it’ll return to Cape Town in the future, and if it does, you should definitely go see it.
Sadako is a puppet show about Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who was 2 years old when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. 10 years later she develops leukemia and is admitted to hospital. One day a friend comes to visit her, bringing an origami crane as a present. Her friend tells her of a legend where if someone folds 1000 origami cranes, they will be granted a wish by a crane. Sadako starts folding cranes in the hope that she will day be granted a wish and be free of the disease that is ravaging her body.
So what did I think of the show? As you can no doubt tell from my opening paragraph, I did enjoy it, although it did have some minor problems which I’ll briefly get into.
There were a couple of moments where I felt a performance was a bit too exaggerated, but these exaggerated moments seemed to be the ones the children in the audience enjoyed the most. Considering this is a show that was aimed at an all-ages audience, I’m going to assume these exaggerated moments were intentional. One of the other things that bugged me was how a couple of the puppeteers mispronounced certain Japanese words (one of the performers repeatedly mispronounced the Japanese honorific chan, saying it like Jackie Chan’s surname).
The video above explains the proper use of honorifics in Japanese, and how to pronounce them, in the first few minutes.
Having said that, the story is incredibly well told. The tragic ending brought tears to my eyes, which should be a pretty good indication on how moving this story was. The sound design was great, and the performances (for the most part) were great as well. The exaggerated moments aside, the performances were very good overall. The show is also quite amusing and will definitely bring out a few chuckles, just don’t expect it to be laugh out loud funny. The humour is used mostly to lighten the mood since the story ends on such a tragic note. If you’ve never seen a puppet show before this is a great place to start, and if you enjoy puppetry this is one show you definitely don’t want to miss.