Theater company Shika Goroshi
(Jan. 21-28, 2010 at Aoyama Round Theatre)
Photo: Sakiko Wada
Length: 2 hr.
Acts/scenes: 1 act, 10 scenes
Cast: 26+α (17 men, 9 women)
|A man who is destined to be a superstar has his own “star” from the beginning. But, what about a man who has no star?
Kiichi is an unemployed young man who continues to pursue his dream of becoming a manga artist. At a young age he lost the only one in the world who believed in him, his mother. In contrast, Kiichi sees his younger brother, who has had guts from the time he was small and is now a great success as a boxer. But, even this Kiichi has a superstar inside himself. The play proceeds in parallel time frames with scenes of Kiichi in childhood and the mature Kiichi seeing himself in retrospect.
The setting is the 60-year-old Tachibana housing development in Amagasaki city, Hyogo prefecture. The protagonist Kiichi’s father has gone deep into debt trying to keep his failing business alive and the family is now subjected to the relentless threats of debt collectors. The family is left with no choice but to lock the door and pretend to be out whenever the debt collectors come calling.
They hear the relentless pound on the door and the threatening voices of the debt collectors. Terrified, the older son Kiichi cowers and cries, while his younger brother Shunichi sleeps unaware.
Shunichi is born under a star of great fortune, and his father in particular is certain of his inevitable success.
As years pass their mother literally works herself to death in the father’s shop. On the day of her death the father was out training the younger brother. This boy will be a superstar ….
It is 20 years later and Kiichi, now an adult, is still living in the Tachibana housing complex. He has been told to vacate the apartment but he is determined to stay and keep drawing his manga.
His younger brother Shunichi comes by for a visit. Their father’s training bore fruit and Shunichi has risen to fame as champion.
Shunichi gives Kiichi money to move and recommends that he vacate the apartment as he is being asked to do. Kiichi refuses.
His reason is that this apartment harbors memories of their mother. Just then there is a call from an editor of a manga magazine. For some reason it seems that Kiichi is being praised for a manga he has no recollection of having submitted. The title is “Butcher the Great of the Housing Project.”
The setting returns to the Tachibana housing project in 1986. Kiichi is a young child.
Children are playing in the courtyard and a housewife chorus is practicing when along comes a suspicious-looking young man named Butcher. Belying his disreputable appearance, Butcher sings with amazing beauty and everyone listens in awe and admiration. Kiichi’s dead mother had been a beautiful singer, too. He finds himself drawn with admiration for this Butcher.
But, no one knows Butcher’s true identity.
The adult Kiichi is drinking at a bar named Peru. The people that now raise their glasses with Kiichi are the same children that had played together in the Tachibana housing project back in 1986. Like Kiichi, none have met with much success in their lives thus far.
Enters Shunichi. He complains that the police have come to him because his brother not only refuses to leave the apartment but has also punctured the tires of the trucks of the contractors come to tear down the buildings. After Shunichi leaves, there is talk that Butcher has come to the bar. Is it true that this man named Butcher is really here?
The editor appears. He praises the “Butcher the Great of the Housing Project” and says that he wants to run it in his magazine. Kiichi doesn’t know what to say, because the manga isn’t his in the first place.
The setting is the Tachibana housing project in 1990. Kiichi is elementary school age. The project residents are discussing whether they should vacate the buildings as the developers want. Only Kiichi’s father and one other family are determined to resist.
Then some loan collectors appear, frightening Kiichi’s father. Here again, Butcher makes a well-timed appearance and drives off the loan sharks with an impressive display of kung fu.
Thanks to Butcher’s decisive punch, the neighbors become sympathetic with the plight of Kiichi’s family. Still, they go on to vacate their apartments and move away one by one.
Around this time, Kiichi has fallen in love with a girl called Marchi. She is his first love.
The setting moves to the year 2010. Kiichi is determined to stay in the housing project. He puts up resistance by puncturing the tires and breaking the windshield of the truck of the contractors that have come to tear down the buildings.
Meanwhile, he continues to receive praise from the manga magazine editor for the manga he hasn’t even written ….
It is now the summer of 1993. Kiichi is junior high school age. The debate about whether or not to vacate the housing project to developers is still going on among the residents.
Kiichi is absorbed in basketball, and in his first love, Marchi. It is a bright season in his life. But another family has left the project ….
Again it is the year 2010. Kiichi gets a phone call from the editor. He complains that the recent sequels of “Butcher the Great of the Housing Project” have gotten boring. The sequels that someone had been sending to the magazine in Kiichi’s name had stopped coming. So the editor had asked Kiichi to write the next sequels. And now he is complaining that Kiichi’s sequels are boring. Kiichi at a loss.
Meanwhile, his younger brother Shunichi is set to marry a famous actress if he wins his next title match.
The frustrated Kiichi wonders if he has no star after all.
The work of tearing down the project is proceeding.
At the bar Peru, Kiichi is told that his first love, Marchi, has become a porn actress.
The year is 1995, and Kiichi has an important last game as a member of the school basketball team. He gets the ball with a chance to help the team get back in the game. He takes a shot but misses, even though Butcher was there with him.
Butcher says, “There will be another chance.” With a bright expression he suggests that next he should try proposing to Marchi.
The 2010 Kiichi suddenly remembers: “Butcher the Great of the Housing Project” was a manga that he and his mother had created together!
Just then, Kiichi gets a message that his brother Shunichi has been in an accident just before his scheduled title match.
Kiichi runs to the hospital, only to find that his brother apparently got into the accident intentionally.
Just when everyone thought that Shunichi’s opponent, Mike Honjo, was going to win the title by default, Butcher appears in the ring in Shunichi’s place. No matter how many times he gets knocked down and beaten like a punching bag, Butcher keeps getting back up.
Seeing this, Kiichi has a revelation and climbs up into the ring. The moment he stands in the ring, Butcher disappears. Kiichi and Mike Honjo are transformed into giants like Ultraman and the fight goes on.
It is as if Kiichi is Superman battling a monster.
The victorious Kiichi receives the champion’s belt.
Back in the remains of the housing project, Kiichi stops short in packing up his belonging and begins to walk. He thinks he hears the warm voices of his old childhood friends from the project singing and the trumpet of Marchi.
Holding the sketchbook that he and his mother had drawn “Butcher the Great of the Housing Project,” he shouts out: “Marchi, I love you!”
Born in Toyonaka city, Osaka. He is a playwright and actor. He became active in theater as a member of the Something drama club of Kwansei Gakuin University while a student there. In 2000 he started the theater company Shika Goroshi with Chobi Natsuki. From 2005, Maruo moved his base of activities to Tokyo and became known for his music theater type street performances held at a rate of about 1,000 a year. With the motto of “giving men and women of all ages a hard punch and a tight hug,” he creates works that use the body and music to create momentum in stories that express the lovable side of human nature. His 2011 play Superstar was nominated a finalist for the 55th Kishida Kunio Drama Award.