The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Sin and Love Sin and Love Sin and Love Sin and Love Sin and Love
Sin and Love
(Jan. 19 – 23, 2020 at Komaba Agora Theater)
Photo: Naotoshi Oda
Premiere: 2020
Japanese Drama Database
Play of the Month Play of the Month
Mar. 30, 2021
Sin and Love by Naotoshi Oda 
Sin and Love by Naotoshi Oda 
This play was a Finalist in the 65th Kishida Prize for Drama. Naotoshi Oda (born 1986) is known for his works that largely reference philosophical and intellectual literature, and this Finalist work takes Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment as a reference point to create a personal short story-like play about men living in poverty. The protagonists are four Man who appear to represent Oda himself. Taking a core image of Man writing stage scripts, the story presents shifting fragmented images from the solitary daily lives of the four Man.
The scene is a room of an apartment scattered with piles of books seemingly countless in number. Man 1 sits at a desk writing a script on a computer.

The landlord is shouting at Man 2. The landlord threatens that if he doesn’t pay his delinquent rent and other debts, he will have to leave the apartment by the end of the month. In response, Man 2 bows deeply and says that he will pay up by next month.

A spider that has taken up residence in the apartment talks about the room and Man 1’s life.

The scene is a park near the seaside. Man 3 talks about the plan to blow up the Statue of Liberty that he has been scheming to undertake for some time.

Man 4 reminisces about the past. He regrets having betrayed the girlfriend who had been with him in the past.

Man 1 stops writing his stage script, and he goes out to his job of folding leaflets into newspapers.

Man 2 faces the audience and tells them that he has decided to borrow money from a consumer loan company and bet it all at the horse races.

Man 3 meets a woman at the seaside park who is giving food to the pigeons, and he speaks to her. Man 3 boasts that he has blown up the Statue of Liberty, but the woman doesn’t believe him. The two leave that spot together.

There is a rat that keeps appearing in Man 1’s apartment. In way of apology for having eaten the Man’s spaghetti, it plays a tune for him.

At the racetrack, the horse that Man 2 bet on lost, so he decides to quit betting on the horse races.

Returning to his apartment, Man 3 collapses on his bed and falls asleep.

Seeing that, Man 4 tells about a dream in which he sees the Statue of Liberty burning. He says that when a nightmare wakes him, he can’t sleep, and he walks around until dawn. On the way, he stops at Shinjuku Central Park, where he has heard that there are also rats appearing. A rat begins playing a tune.

Man 1 gets a phone call from his mother back at the family home. His mother is worried about how his work and his life is going. When Man 1 asks his mother how she is doing, she complains that high school baseball player with an unshaven face like a grown man has been throwing hard balls against their wall, and as a result their outdoor water heater is full of dents.

The high school baseball player appears with the sounds of the baseball tournament announcements and siren and begins to throw his ball carelessly against any wall. When Man 1’s mother reprimands him, the young man ignores her and keeps throwing at the walls. When the siren sounds at the end of the game, he leaves. Man 1 thinks it is just his mother’s imagination. He finishes the call and goes back to his writing.

Once again, the landlord is yelling at Man 2. Again Man 2 bows deeply and asks for another postponement on his rent payment. He goes on to complain that because of the rats in the apartment he has gotten ill and can’t work, but all he gets from the landlord is a brusque rebuff.

Man 4 is recalling the “girlfriend” he met at Odaiba’s seaside Keihin Park. On his way back from visiting his landlord at his tower condominium building, it seems that Man 4 has stopped by Keihin Park to rest. There comes the spider, pulling a suitcase. It is just in time to save Man 4 from drowning after jumping into the sea.

In his apartment, Man 1 is working on his stage script. When Man 2 returns, he lights an insecticide smoke coil to fumigate his room and then goes out. Aroused by the smoke, the rat awakes and begins playing a tune. Surprised by the smoke, Man 1 goes out in search of the spider. The rat dies.

Man 1 is at his desk with his stage script open.

Awoken while in bed by a phone call from the landlord, Man 2 suddenly becomes enraged. Man 2 throws the landlord down on his bed and tries to strangle him to death in his rage. The spider covers itself in kerosene and shouts for him to stop.

Man 1 is working desperately on his stage script. The landlord gets up and goes out with Man 2 in a friendly atmosphere.

Walking along on a landfill area in Shibaura, Man 3 purchases some gasoline and begins to cross the Rainbow Bridge on foot. Finding a dead pigeon on the ground, Man 3 drops down on his hands and knees on the spot.

Man 1 is at his desk writing his stage script. The spider comes in and announces that she is pregnant. The spider introduces her fiancé to Man 1 and then leaves after thanking him for all he has done for her until now.

Answering an ad for a part-time job, Man 2 desperately tries to get an appointment for a job interview, bowing deeply before his smartphone as he talks.

Man 3 is asleep on a bench in Keihin Park. As the woman there is feeding the pigeons as usual, suddenly Man 3 is surrounded by several police officers. The woman describes the scene as Man 3 gets up and pulls out a knife. There is a loud sound and then a silent hush. Man 3 gets up. The woman says that he has been shot by the police. The two (Man 3 and the woman) walk away from the scene.

Man 1 returns to his apartment. He talks about the fact that after paying all the bills for his new work’s coming performance, there was next to nothing left in his bank account. As his head sinks, revealing his disheartenment, there is another telephone call from his mother. She asks him if he wants to come back home, but he rejects the offer, saying he wants to try his best to continue doing theater until he is satisfied with what he has done.

Man 4 recollects about the time when his former girlfriend came to him in yet another of her numerous attempts to convince him that she wanted to end their relationship, saying that she had another person that she liked, and that she was now pregnant with his child. With murderous intent at that time he struck her with a statuette of Statue of Liberty and then strangled her to death. He then put her body in a suitcase and left it in his bathroom.

Man 4 says that all of this is delusions. But in fact, the spider has died in that bathroom, covered in shampoo.

The spider recites a passage from Henry Charles Bukowski’s Factotum. “In the end, everyone needs love, don’t they?” With this the stage lights fade out.

When the lights come on again, we see Man 1 at his desk, writing a stage script.

Born in 1986 in the city of Hiroshima. Graduated with a Master’s degree from the School of Education of Tokyo Gakugei University. Oda began creative activities in 2015. Among his major theater works are Es ist gut (premiere 2016), which connects themes from philosophical works Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Immanuel Kant) and Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor Emil Frankl) to the events that took place in Tokyo after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami; About Evil (premiere 2017), which drew on quotes from the ancient philosopher Augustine of the late Roman Empire in the depiction of concerns about small misdeeds committed by a group of five men and women; and Sin and Love (premiere 2020) drawing on Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment in a personal short story style exploring the theme of poverty.