Bottle Mail, by Ship of the Ryukyu. Spotlites @ The Merchant’s Hall, Edinburgh. Julia Pascal.

 

This is an unusually thrilling show that is also an exciting history lesson.  Few of us in the West know that the hundreds of islands that make up Okinawa were controlled by the kingdom of Ryukyu before they were absorbed into Japan in 1879.  The production has no traditional European narrative, there is no three act structure, drama or resolution.  The show starts with the idea of a letter being sent in a ship in a bottle where news of the past is transmitted to the present day.  The idea is merely a device to explore the culture that is endemic to the islands.  The one hour performance  is a formal presentation of the wealth of music, dance and song from a fabulously talented ensemble who succeed in transmitting   this particularly rich  legacy to a group of reserved European spectators.  Bottle Mail is a refreshingly authentic expression of Okinawan culture.  It is a delight.

Ends 24 August. 4.05pm.

Julia Pascal © 2014.