Review: Halcyon Days – Riverside Studios

“Straddle me like a horse and squeeze”

Written in 2004 in response to a spate of teenage suicides in Japan, incidents connected to a rise in websites set up to share techniques and enable people to come together in group suicides, Shoji Kokami’s Halcyon Days is now receiving its English-language premiere at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith after being well received in his native Japan. Treading a fine line between dark yet broad comedy and bleak ruminative tragedy, Kokami’s play follows four people who encounter each other on a such a suicide website and decide to meet up to go through with the deed.

But things aren’t quite as simple as they seem. One of the four is actually a ghost; not everyone is quite as keen on dying as the others and in the act of coming together, the interactions between this group as they push and pull their way towards death, via rehearsing a Japanese fairytale, reveals some of the complex emotions and motivations behind the suicidal tendencies, which play out for all of them in unexpected ways. Continue reading “Review: Halcyon Days – Riverside Studios”