A Thousand Cranes @ Himeji Gardens, Adelaide 15/2/2020

On 6 August 1945 the sky over Hiroshima, Japan, lit up with a blinding flash of light. The immediate result was the death of over one hundred thousand people, mostly civilians. Sadako Sasaki was two years old and lost her grandmother. A decade later, Sadako succumbed to Leukemia as a result of the atomic bomb that killed so many but not before attempting to fold a thousand paper cranes and wishing to get well again.

Adelaide’s The Gemini Collective brings to life Eleanor Coerr’s 1977 novel Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes for the 2020 Fringe Festival. Set on the lawn outside the Himeji Japanese Gardens amid stalls of handmade origami jewellery and traditional Japanese food, the opening performance of A Thousand Cranes on Saturday 15 February generated a respectably sized crowd from ages 2 to 60+. Not even drizzle could dampen anyone’s mood as they sat on picnic blankets to see a modern interpretation of this historical story.

The set consisting of an aerial silks rig, a torii, a bench and box, highlights that this is not your typical theatrical interpretation. The entrance of Sadako (Madeline Flapper) and Kenji (Calin Diamond) further supports this notion as they dance and use acrobatics intermixed with acting. As the story progresses it does so amidst a unity of live theatre, contemporary dance, music and aerial silks.

The small ensemble cast also consisting of Iman Saleh as Sadako’s father and Taylor Tran as Sadako’s mother/ Obachan works well together and demonstrates professionalism in the absence of a formal backstage. With costume changes occurring by trees or behind the audience and props being housed in plain sight, witnessing the inner workings of the production does not detract from the story, which is a testament to the cast. The pairing of Flapper and Diamond, in particular, is a delight to watch as they bring believability to Sadako and Kenji’s friendship.

The forty-minute production is captivating and poignant. As the characters intermittently count to six hundred and forty-four, the number of cranes Sadako folded before yielding to Leukemia, the emotion swells. When Sadako joins her grandmother in the spirit world and Flapper performs on the silks representing her characters freedom, I am quietly happy that I have my sunglasses on so nobody can see the tears falling down my face.

Fringe Review By Anita Kertes

For tickets and show information head to FringeTix.