Is your country at peace? This is, initially, an easy question, but over the course of No Sanction, the definition of ‘peace’ is blurred.
The protagonist, a slight man in grey sweatpants, is wearing a paper bag over his head. Two crude eyes are cut out, through which his view is limited. On average, 70 people per day die by suicide in Japan, the majority of which are men. Is this a country ‘at peace’, he asks? Is this suicide or murder?
The protagonist is hesitant: ‘I’m not good at speaking,’ he admits. There are long pauses. He stutters often. Who he is talking to isn’t clear: himself, an invisible partner, or the audience. He is tired of the world, of mindless violence, of news saturated with grief. As a stage actor, struggling to find work, he feels he cannot provide for his girlfriend, take her out, or travel with her.
In his relationship with his girlfriend, it’s what is not said that matters most: we’re left to fill in the blanks of a one-sided conversation. Perhaps he is, too. As he struggles to come to terms with the fact that at some point in your life you have to give up on your dreams to be able to make a living, he isn’t focused on what’s going on in his girlfriend’s mind.
At one point, he paints a bright red smile on his paper bag face, a telling, if unsubtle, metaphor for the men of his country who live with poor mental health. But, in the end, it’s the women who are the underlying significance to the story.
Until Sat 18 Aug (not 12), Greenside @ Nicolson Square, 11.40am, £8 (£6).