Theatre Review - Sputnik Sweetheart

Naruto Komatsu in Sputnik Sweetheart [Alex Brenner]

SET in 1999, Sumire (Millicent Wong), an aspiring writer, and K (Naruto Komatsu), a teacher, are best friends. K loves Sumire, but she falls for Miu (Natsumi Kuroda), an older businesswoman. After Sumire accepts a job with Miu they start travelling together and her writing dries up.

When Sumire goes missing on a Greek island, K rushes there to help Miu find her. We learn of Miu’s inability to physically reciprocate Sumire’s love. A past sexual trauma is brilliantly realised in a scene that suggests Miu has buried the memory in her subconscious.

Meanwhile, K believes Sumire has disappeared into a parallel world in order to “find” an earlier incarnation of Miu.

Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Murakami’s mystical novel is beautifully staged and choreographed by Melly Still. Murakami’s introspective characters and the story’s surreal elements may frustrate some but the central theme of unrequited love is quietly compelling.

The cast create a dreamlike atmosphere where we are never sure what is real, imagined or repressed. The characters circle one another like satellites, unable to connect. An open-sided telephone box and an extended telephone cord are imaginatively employed while Sonoko Obuchi’s playful animation adds another layer to this haunting production.

Until November 25

Originally published by Camden New Journal