4th of the 16 Kabukiza Sayonara K˘en, the Kabukiza Farewell Performances, which will be held up to April 2010.
Meiboku Sendai Hagi: this play is about the attempt to take over one of the most
famous samurai households in the Edo period, a scandal that caused a sensation in
Hanamizubashi: the daimy˘ Yorikane
(Nakamura Hashinosuke) has fallen in love with a courtesan and has neglected responsibilities,
causing high ranking retainers to plot the takeover of his domain.
Returning from the pleasure quarters, he is attacked at Hanamizu Bridge, but
is able to escape thanks to the help of a sum˘ wrestler retainer.
Take-no-Ma/Goten: Masaoka (Band˘ Tamasabur˘), a loyal maidservant, is taking care of the
lord's young heir. Afraid he will be poisoned, she refuses to let anyone see
him who might try to assassinate him. She even fixes his meal in her quarters
using her delicate tea ceremony implements to cook rice. The plotting faction
does not give up, though, and sends poison in the form of candy as a present
from the Sh˘gun. Masaoka's son sacrifices his life for the young lord
by eating the poisoned candy, and when he is killed, she thinks only of
protecting her lord. Her fierce devotion to duty convinces the plotters
that she is on their side. Masaoka's actions help save the young lord,
and only when she is alone can she grieve for her son. With Kataoka Nizaemon
as the villainous Yashio, a court woman who kills Masaokaĺs son.
Yukashita: Another faithful retainer Otokonosuke (Band˘ Mitsugor˘), stands guard
underneath the room, but the evil Nikki Danj˘ (Nakamura Kichiemon) appears as a giant rat,
but then slips away, walking calmly through the clouds.
Taiketsu/Ninj˘: the elderly Geki (Nakamura Karoku), a faithful retainer,
brings charges against Danj˘. Danj˘ cleverly protests his innocence, but his lies
are seen through by the wise judge Katsumoto (Kataoka Nizaemon). Condemned to death,
Nikki tries to take his revenge on Geki.
Keya-mura: Rokusuke (Nakamura Kichiemon), a sword master who lives a simple country life,
is taking care of a small foundling child. He hangs the boy's kimono outside his house in
the hope that the boy's relatives will see it and know where he is.
One day he finds himself attacked by a woman named Osono (Nakamura Fukusuke)
who turns out to be the aunt of the child. As they talk, they find that they are in fact linked by promises of marriage
although they have never met directly. Osono is searching for the killer of her father, Rokusuke's master, and
Rokusuke promises to help in her vendetta.
Yoshidaya: the roots of this play go back to the earliest days of
Kabuki. Izaemon, the son of a wealthy family, has been disowned for loving a
courtesan and now has nothing but a paper kimono. This role is a classic
example of the wagoto or soft style of
acting that is one of the representative acting styles of the Kansai region.
Kataoka Nizaemon stars as Izaemon, a role that is a specialty of his family's Kansai
acting style. Featuring Band˘ Tamasabur˘ as the courtesan ďgiya Yűgiri (Izaemon's lover),
Kataoka Gat˘ and Kataoka Hidetar˘ as the proprietor and proprietress of the Yoshidaya teahouse.
Sonezaki Shinjű: a young merchant named Tokubŕ has long been in
love with the courtesan Ohatsu and is diligently trying to buy out her contract.
But he is swindled out of his money by someone he considered a friend.
Then he is beaten and humiliated in the precincts of the Ikutama shrine.
He sneaks into the teahouse where Ohatsu is and she hides him under the veranda.
At this point, Tokubŕ's "friend" comes and calls him a criminal.
Ohatsu fiercely defends Tokubŕ and asks whether he is prepared to defend his
honor by committing love suicide. Silently, from under the veranda,
he holds her bare foot and draws it across his neck. The journey to the forest
where they commit love suicide is like a dream, half-way between this world
and the next and has some of the most famous lines in Japanese theatre:
"Farewell to this world and to this night, farewell. To what should we who go
to our deaths be likened? We are like the frost on the road leading to the
graveyard, vanishing with each step". Starring Nakamura Kanjaku and Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘ in
the roles of Tokubŕ and Ohatsu.