Sotoba Komachi @ Old Fitz Theatre

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 (reviewed Tuesday 9 April)

New Ghosts Theatre Company’s production of Sotoba Komachi by Yukio Mishima is a charming, whimsical play about the transient nature of beauty between youth and old age. Mishima adapted the traditional Japanese drama to tell the story of Komachi, a 99-year-old woman who wanders around the park late at night spying on lovers and smoking discarded cigarette butts. One evening she meets a poet who tells her she has no place being there because she has ‘ugly old wrinkles’, but she merely batts her eyelashes and transports them back to a scene 80 years earlier, when she was a ravishing 19-year-old courted by the finest aristocracy in Japanese society. The 45-minute play comprises these vignettes from her celebrated youth, when every man wanted to seduce her, but only one came close.

Suan Ling Young is endearing as Komachi, drawing out the character’s proud, impish and coquettish qualities reminiscent of the rose in The Little Prince, who bloomed under compliments and scolded, grumbled and wilted whenever she felt like she was being ignored. Komachi recounts memories of her youthful glory which was never lost, using her sparkling mischievous eyes and carefree nature to create a playful dynamic with her much younger soon-to-be-admirer, the poet, played by Wern Mak.

Their initial meet in the garden could have been directed with a little more exploration, curiosity and nuance in the lines. Mak’s character seemed to be more of an austere accountant than a poet. The throwback at the ball is where the play hits its stride, blossoming with a lovely touch of whimsy and poetic inspiration. The ensemble supporting cast (Jasper Lee Lindsay, Millie Hing, Rachel Seeto, with Jeremi Campese as director) do an excellent job in their role as the park lovers / phantom players. The engaging, intricate choreography by Artemis Alfonzetti gives the story its dream like quality, underscored by sound design by Johnny Yang and lighting by Chris Milburn.

Alas, time passes all too quickly in this play as it does in real life. Campese’s directorial debut is to be highly commended.

Sotoba Komachi is playing at Old Fitz in Woolloomooloo until 13 April. For tickets and showtimes, go to

Images: Karl Elbourne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *