On September 11 at Shibuya’s Cerulean Tower Noh Theater in Tokyo, Soju Project presented an English-language introduction to Noh, followed by a special full performance by the Takeda Noh Troupe of the demon-Noh play 'Adachigahara.'
At a first read, ‘Adachigahara’ is merely scary. Three men on a journey find themselves isolated and alone at night in the bleak moors of Adachi. They ask an old woman for lodgings, only to find she is in fact a demon. In the resulting supernatural battle, good triumphs over evil. It is the stuff of any late night horror flick. “Whatever you do, don’t look behind that door!”
For many in the audience, this was a line reminiscent of the Hollywood horror classic “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (“Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep!”).
But the Noh play ‘Adachigahara’ is more than just scary, it is also a tragic, haunting play. Due in large part to the influence of Noh, there are moments of sympathy both for and by the demon, giving the play a pathos that can at times be wrenching.
The memory of Yoshiteru Takeda’s performance haunts me still.