Kabuki is a stylized form of Japanese dance and drama dating back to the 1600s. When, after World War II, Japan put Kabuki on global tour in an attempt to strengthen diplomatic relations, the word took on a new, cynical meaning: self-serving political posturing.
Both meanings of the word come into play in Blood, a "political thriller with music" now having a revival in Los Angeles.
Blood is a mashup of Kabuki, rock and roll, English Music Hall, and Brooklyn street smarts à la Law & Order. It is a thought-provoking, fast-moving, and thoroughly entertaining work that makes its point with theatrical invention.
Inspired by true events, Blood takes on the 1980s "Japanese Tainted Blood Scandal," in which 2000 people died of AIDS after the U.S. knowingly sold contaminated blood to Japan. In the play, the corrupt head of the Japan AIDS Research Committee withholds vital information from the public to serve both his wallet and his ego. It takes a Brooklyn-bred American journalist, Ms. Jules Davis (played by a feisty Glenne Headly), to bring the scandal to light.
Ms. Davis crosses paths with the villain, the oily Dr. Kazama (a controlled Michael Yama), when a former student of hers dies mysteriously. She convinces, coerces, and cajoles Korean lawyer Yoji Kurosawa (played alternately by Rob Yang and James Kyson) and nurse Aiko Asami (a standout Kazumi Aihara) to join her on a long slog through the Japanese court system. Ms. Davis wins, of course, but not without confronting Japanese cultural norms that require Dr. Kazama to save face.
With over 50 scenes, writer/director Robert Allan Ackerman uses the stage and cast well. He orchestrates projections, props and stage decorations without losing the plotline or the audience. Original music and songs by Nick Ackerman and Chris Cester add to the sights and sounds of Tokyo, the show's setting.
The Garage Company, the show's producers, is an East Asian theater company. The multi-talented, mostly Asian, cast and creative team provide an authentic look at 1980's Japan -- a society desperate to hang onto its simple past despite a modern medical and moral crisis
Blood plays until December 18th at The Complex so get your tickets now!