The Houston School of Creative and Performing Arts is taking on this classic tale from Japan – a cerebral quandary that exemplifies the difficulty, or impossibility, of arriving at the truth when all witnesses to an event disagree about what took place – now known as the “Rashomon Effect.” Fay and Michael Kanin adapted this play from the film version that was itself an adaptation/merging of two short stories Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Rashomon and In the Grove.

The setting is at the crumbling gates of Rashomon where a disheartened priest, a poor woodcutter, and a wily wigmaker end up discussing a local murder case that has raised several social and philosophical issues. A man has been killed in the forest. Beyond that, little is clear from the testimony of the eyewitnesses.

The wife claims that a well-known bandit, Tajomaru, tied her husband up, raped her in front of him, then left. When she untied her husband, she begged him to kill her for honor’s sake, but as she pleaded, he ended up accidentally running himself through on the sword. Tajomaru claims that he intended to rape the wife, but that instead she seduced him, and then told Tajomaru that she will leave her husband for Tajomaru if he can kill her husband in an honor duel. Tajomaru claims to have killed the husband in the duel, but that the wife had run away during the fight.

But the dead husband tells another story. Yes, he also testifies in the trial for his own murder, courtesy of a medium. And the woodcutter has a fourth version of events to tell. But who is right? How much are lies, and how much is individual perception? How can the truth ever be known with certainty – or can it?

Director Cynthia Ogden’s production has a thoughtful, methodical pace and tone to it, with violence and despair always simmering just under the surface, occasionally breaking the surface in a couple of well-designed murder scenes. Brian James gives an exceptional performance as the bandit Tajomaru, his voice and body language exuding strength and an easy but cruel confidence – a proud, passionate, and pragmatic man who sees the world as his enemy, but an enemy he gladly does battle with. Jamye Grant is the lovely wife who can be either ashamed or absolutely cold, depending on whose version of events we’re seeing. Grantham H. Ledger Coleman is the solemn husband who nicely underplays his part, the samurai keeping his emotions in check, except for the one version of events when he suddenly fears his impending death – making that moment all the more striking.

Supporting performances include Atalia Castro as the crafty wigmaker who injects great humor and personality into the show. Solome Williams is the nervous woodcutter and Kwasi Fordjour the depressed priest looking for something to believe in. Akilah Muhammad offers a nice cameo as the deputy who’s a little too eager for a conviction. Margarita Martirosyan, who helps set the mood with her gliding dance and offers mesmerizing testimony as the dead husband’s medium. Also helping to set the mood are the complementary costumes (Kristina Markovsky), sounds (John Paul Green), and darkly subdued lighting (Meg Viers) that work in unison to create the pall that hangs over and pervades the characters and story.

Performed February 1 - 9, 2008.

Rob Hopper
Executive Director
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Priest: Kwasi Fordjour
Woodcutter: Solome Williams
Wigmaker: Atalia Castro
Deputy: Akilah Muhammad
Bandit: Brian James
Husband: Grantham H. Ledger Coleman
Wife: Jamye Grant
Mother: Katelyn Bleiweiss
Medium: Margarita Martirosyan
Court Attendant: Ashley Munfus

Director: Cynthia Ogden
Director/Fight Choreography: Terry Ogden
Stage Manager: Emily Nichol-Green
Set Designer: Katy McCormick
Costume Designer: Kristina Markovsky
Lighting Designer: Meg Viers
Sound Design: John Paul Green
Properties Master/Designer: Gabriel Wilson


Home   |   Awards   |   Reviews   |   News   |   Actors   |   Headshots   |   Theatres   |   Calendars   |   Newsletters   |   Membership
Auditions   |   Workshops   |   Drama Instruction   |   Playwrights/Scripts   |   Vendors   |   Links   |   Advertising   |   About Us