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One Green Bottle review at Soho Theatre, London – ‘surreal and anarchic’

The cast of One Green Bottle at Soho Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Hideki Noda’s One Green Bottle is a satirical play for the ‘selfie’ generation or, as the writer and director clearly sees it, the ‘selfish’ generation.

Reuniting Noda, who also performs, with Kathryn Hunter and Glyn Pritchard following The Bee, this newer work is about a family who all want to go out. Someone must care for Princess, the heavily pregnant dog, but no one will change their plans.

Hunter is excellent as Bo, a self-labelled “master of the classical stage”, secretly harbouring ambitions to visit Mickey Mouse at Universal Studio’s Wonderland. Along with intricate physical routines from traditional Japanese theatre (and some Disney-inspired mime), Hunter catches the softer, crackly-voiced domestic side of the grumbling patriarch.

Unlike the father’s hidden appreciation for American animation, the other characters wear their embrace of modern life with pride. Noda’s housewife Boo, in a bright, floral kimono with a diamante detailed obi – gets Beatlemania for pop band Boyz of Noise. Playing daughter Pickle, Pritchard is transformed into a backpack-swinging Harajuku girl in a purple wig that makes him look a bit Ziggy Stardust.

Despite great performances, the play has points where its themes (older versus younger, tradition versus technology, community versus individualism) and jokes become slightly tired, and almost trite.

Its surrealistic and anarchic moments are the most interesting – often given an effectively foreboding soundtrack via the Noh and Kabuki-inspired music of Denzaemon Tanaka XIII. It’s a flawed play, but one that still leaves you wondering what happens when that final green bottle falls.

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Kathryn Hunter gives an agile, expressive and skilful performance in Hideki Noda’s satire