After reading the description, I note that this is supposed to be one of Japans favorite Kabuki, mostly because of the heroics of the main characters and the respect and dedication they show each other. I can see how the story and the bravery of the characters would make it a favorite play in Japan. The main characters fit very well the character type of the brave AND smart hero. They don't just use their strength to get out of difficult situations, they use their brain, and show proper respect to people of equal skill, even if they are meant to be their opponent. This seems to be one of the more realistic plays where it doesn't exaggerate actions or situations as much as in some plays such a Shibaraku or even double love suicide. The play seems to appeal to our sense of emotion more than a sense of action. But I find it very nice that way. It is a very emotional provocative play, and really appeals to your sense of what is right and loyal.
I do notice about that the dialog and accompanying music is very nice. I greatly enjoy the rhythmic dialog of this play in particular. Since this uses dialog so heavily it is very pleasing to the ears I think. Especially the dialog of the priest/retainer (though it may just be this actor in particular) I thought had a very nice tone and was particularly easy to listen to. The speed of dialog also helps to express emotion a lot. Like when the main retainer is being quized about different things in Buddhism and it gets really fast. Also the part where the retainer is apologizing for almost beating his lord. His voice gets very low and humble, it's very interesting to be able to listen to so much dialog, usually there is not so much dialog in large clumps.
I also see very much how the lord is portraid a little bit like a women. The actor does even look like an Onna-gata. The way he cries when his main retainer is begging forgiveness. Also the way he talks seems very feminien to me. But it almost makes the relationship better, you can see that this man does not have to protect this boy but that he really really does love and respect him. And that the lord returns the feelings.
The dance/fight scenes once they start are also very nice. The movements of the actors in this play remind me a little more of Noh or Bunraku. The use small movements and facial expressions to great advantage in order to portray the emotions these very interesting characterws are feeling. I also find it interesting that for most of the dialogs the actors are facing the audiance. Which was the case with many of the kabuki plays we watched but this is the first in which I really noticed it. I really love the scene where the main retainer uses his fan and dose a short dance sequence. It is very pretty, and again, almost feminen, kind of showing just how much it took for him to cry because he is such a masculine character.
I also really love the back ground music in the play. More than any other I thought the back ground music really helped to set the feel for the scene. I love the chorous and other musicians in this play. The music goes very well with how the dialog sounds, it makes it all very poetic.
It is a real statement I think on the why masculinity is viewed. He cries for the first time, after almost beating his lord to death and then being forgiven, which shows how tough he is and how loyal and devoted he is. But then he can turn right around and drink two full gourds of sake and keep on going. Also he can be loud and boisterous but it doesn't attract from his appeal. Also, I find this character acts in a very high manner. Not an arrogant manner, but he acts very wise and professional. He acts like a priest should act, he acts his strength.
The second fan dance after drinking sake is also very impressive. And again I enjoy the music quite a lot. I would not be able to dance so well after drinking that much sake. The exit of the lord and the music with this dance scene is wonderful. As far as music is concerned this is probably my favorite kabuki we have seen thus far.
For anyone not in my class, or who has never seen this kabuki in particular, I highly recommend it. Just be sure to read the plot before. I want a CD of just the music from this kabuki.
HOPE YOU ENJOY!