Ad not shown

Spirited Away

3
Seen at the London Coliseum
By Sonny - 9th May 2024

Spirited Away review. Photo by Johan Persson.Note: This production is performed in Japanese with English subtitles.

If you’re a fan of the famed Japanese anime studio, Studio Ghibli, or its founder and leading creative Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away will need no introduction and you’re probably giddy with delight for this production. If you’re not aware of either, then you’ve a cinematic world of delight to look forward to, and Spirited Away is an outstanding starting point.

Covering many of the themes common with Miyazaki’s other work Spirited Away uses a magical mysticism to help its child protagonist come to terms with their situation. In Spirited Away, the story focusses on Chihiro’s (Kanna Hashimoto) transition into adulthood and addresses elements such as selflessness, memory, and fear of the unknown.

On driving to their new home in the suburbs, Chihiro’s father takes a wrong turn, and they end up in an abandoned theme park… but all is not as it initially seems. The park is in fact a bathhouse run by spirits for the gods. Chihiro’s parents inadvertently eat some of the gods’ food and are turned into pigs. Stuck in the spirit world, Chihiro must work out how she can save her parents and all return to the human world.

Chihiro is befriended by Haku (Kotaro Daigo), a spirit working at the bathhouse, who helps her navigate this spirit world and, especially, deal with the tyrannical and financially greedy bathhouse owner, Yubaba (Romi Park). On her journey, she is pushed out of her comfort zone, learns to focus on what needs to be done, and stand up for what she believes is right.

The film of Spirited Away has been captivating audiences for over 20 years, and now this stage production aims to bring that same joy to a live show. And, for the most part, it’s quite successful. The production is visually as magical as that of the film. Jon Bausor’s set design is a sight to behold. It rotates, rises, and drops to convey the multi-roomed bathhouse and its magical surrounds with mesmeric accuracy. The use of handheld wall-panels creates movable features that give the space even more flexibility and functionality. Sachiko Nakahara’s costume design, Hiroaki Miyauchi’s make-up and Toby Olié’s mind-bending puppetry design work seamlessly to faithfully and beautifully recreate the vast range of spirits and gods that inhabit the bathhouse.

Add to this the pitch perfect performances from the cast and this show is set to be a triumphant success. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. For all the delights that Spirited Away offers the eyes, and there are many, it offers precious little for the soul. In faithfully recreating the film on stage, the makers seem to have forgotten that there needs to be an emotional connection as well as a visual stimulus. This is further compounded by the fact the performance is done in Japanese, and whilst this gives a wonderful authenticity to the story, it makes it very hard to focus on the physical performances whilst also keeping track of the narrative. For people unfamiliar with the film the narrative becomes a convoluted and confusing mess.

There is much to be admired in Spirited Away. Its artistry, technical wizardry, and creativity are all beyond compare, but its lack of emotional engagement leaves one feeling disappointingly unsatisfied.

Summary Phrase: A visual delight within an emotional void.

Sonny Waheed


Latest News & Reviews

22nd May 24 :: Review: The Artist
World premiere seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
5
18th May 24 :: Review: The Tailor-Made Man
Seen at Stage Door Theatre, Drury Lane.
3
9th May 24 :: Review: Spirited Away
Seen at the London Coliseum
3
29th Apr 24 :: Review: Remembrance Monday
Seen at the Seven Dials Playhouse.
5
25th Apr 24 :: Review: Nye
NT Live broadcast seen at The Regal in Wadebridge
4
21st Apr 24 :: Review: Calendar Girls
Seen at the Mill at Sonning.
4
16th Apr 24 :: Review: Pretty Woman
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
3
15th Apr 24 :: Olivier Awards 2024
The winners of this year's Olivier Awards
10th Apr 24 :: Review: Come From Away
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
5
5th Apr 24 :: Review: Stranger Things: The First Shadow
Seen at The Phoenix Theatre, London
5
2nd Apr 24 :: Review: Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
5
28th Mar 24 :: Review: The Wizard of Oz
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
4
27th Mar 24 :: Critics Circle Awards
The winners of this year's Critics' Circle Theatre Awards have been announced.
22nd Mar 24 :: Review: The Motive and the Cue
Live broadcast seen at the Regal Cinema, Wadebridge.
5
12th Mar 24 :: Review: Macbeth
English Touring Theatre (ETT) production seen in Worthing,
3
7th Mar 24 :: Review: The Life of Pi
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
5
6th Mar 24 :: Review: And Then There Were None
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
2
5th Mar 24 :: Review: Musclebound
Seen at The Front Room, Weston-super-Mare
3
2nd Mar 24 :: Review: Marry Me A Little
Seen at The Stage Door Theatre, Drury Lane
2
28th Feb 24 :: Review: Cable Street
Seen at the Southwark Playhouse, Borough.
3

Most Popular Stories

Viewings over the last 14 days
 
Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
Posted 2nd Apr 24 :: 222 views
Spirited Away
Seen at the London Coliseum
Posted 9th May 24 :: 195 views
Nye
NT Live broadcast seen at The Regal in Wadebridge
Posted 25th Apr 24 :: 194 views
Remembrance Monday
Seen at the Seven Dials Playhouse.
Posted 29th Apr 24 :: 167 views
Pretty Woman
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
Posted 16th Apr 24 :: 137 views
Come From Away
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
Posted 10th Apr 24 :: 126 views
Calendar Girls
Seen at the Mill at Sonning.
Posted 21st Apr 24 :: 123 views
Stranger Things: The First Shadow
Seen at The Phoenix Theatre, London
Posted 5th Apr 24 :: 120 views
Olivier Awards 2024
The winners of this year's Olivier Awards
Posted 15th Apr 24 :: 116 views
The Tailor-Made Man
Seen at Stage Door Theatre, Drury Lane.
Posted 18th May 24 :: 115 views
The Umbilical Brothers: The Distraction
Seen at Assembly Roxy. EdFringe.
Posted 20th Aug 23 :: 108 views
The Wizard of Oz
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
Posted 28th Mar 24 :: 105 views
The Last Bantam
Seen at Space Surgeon's Hall (EdFringe)
Posted 24th Aug 23 :: 80 views
And Then There Were None
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
Posted 6th Mar 24 :: 64 views
Macbeth
English Touring Theatre (ETT) production seen in Worthing,
Posted 12th Mar 24 :: 59 views
The Artist
World premiere seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
Posted 22nd May 24 :: 58 views
Cable Street
Seen at the Southwark Playhouse, Borough.
Posted 28th Feb 24 :: 57 views
The Life of Pi
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
Posted 7th Mar 24 :: 55 views
Macbeth
David Tennant and Cush Jumbo at the Donmar Warehouse
Posted 5th Feb 24 :: 51 views
Marry Me A Little
Seen at The Stage Door Theatre, Drury Lane
Posted 2nd Mar 24 :: 47 views

Ad not shown


Mastodon X - Twitter © Dynamic Listing Ltd, UK. 1995-2024