after the quake at the Berkeley Rep

23:50 Mon 26 Nov 2007. Updated: 01:10 27 Nov 2007
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On Saturday night I went to see the Berkeley Rep’s after the quake, an adaptation of two stories from Haruki Murakami’s collection of the same name. The two stories were “Honey Pie” and “Superfrog Saves Tokyo”.

The adaptation combined the two stories in an interesting way, with the structural implication that “Honey Pie” was the master narrative and “Superfrog Saves Tokyo” a fictional piece written by the lead character in “Honey Pie”. The two stories don’t have a strong connection, but the play made them feel naturally intertwined.

Of the two narrative threads, “Superfrog Saves Tokyo” is more fun, a good example of Murakami’s fantasist-realist mode. A middle-aged banking official is surprised in his apartment by a six-foot frog, Frog, who asks for his help in saving Tokyo from an impending disastrous earthquake planned by a giant worm, Worm. I think that story is quite challenging to present in theater, and they did it extremely well, capturing that tension between the bizarre and the banal that is so critical to many of Murakami’s works.

“Honey Pie” is more straightforward, a loner-writer navigating (poorly) a love triangle. That’s not as challenging to perform on stage, and while it was done well, without “Superfrog Saves Tokyo”, “Honey Pie” would have been far less compelling, and would not have given the audience much feel of the essence of Murakami’s work.

If you’re a fan of Murakami’s work, go see it. If you’re not (why aren’t you?), you should still see it, but you should read his books whatever you think of the play.

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