Jaqueline Dommisse snuck me in to the first performance of her show Sadako, since I could not get a media ticket and it was sold out! Sadako was written by Peter Hayes, directed by Jaqueline with a cast of amazing puppeteer/actors and designed by Ilke Louw.
I saw the original Sadako many moons ago at The Baxter Studio, and I was surprized at how much of it I remembered. It is the heart wrenching tale of Sadako, who eight or so years after the atom bombing of Hiroshima, gets ‘bomb sickness’, leukemia. Eina.
This production is newer, bigger, better and sadder. All the puppeteers are amazing; but special mention must be made of Roshina Ratnam (Sadako) and Mark Hoeben (who plays her dad and the doctor). They are transportingly wonderful, believable and Mark in particular is effortlessly sincere.
So, here’s what happened to me during Sadako. I could not manage the story of the sick little girl at all. I segued into imagining Natalie, in Boston, who is still undergoing treatment for her cancer, and I was a wreck, a total, wet, sniveling mess. I could hardly breathe. Which makes it hard to separate. But it is amazing when a piece of puppet theatre can take you there.
I do have some thoughts on the production though. It is very, very beautiful and special, but it is long, and because of the slightly old fashioned style, it is slow. This makes it hard for children (there were two wrigglies next to me and they were going nuts). The story has its own inevitable relentlessness and I think there need to be one or two fewer of the intensely poignant moments; there are one too many to be in tears about!
Some of my favourite things were the relationship between Sadako and her delightful best friend, their most cute school uniforms, the sick little boy in his teeny wheel chair, the thousand paper cranes, Sadako’s mom, and the teeny, teeny baby puppet version of the kid in the family.
Sad Sadako is precious, beautiful, and an emotional weep fest. Be prepared.