ISSEY FOR REAL?
Saturday 21 February 1998
At a recent performance I witnessed in Osaka, Ogata captivated a very young audience with a dazzling display of rubber-faced character comedy. Duncan Hamilton, an Irish actor who has acted as Ogata's translator, explains: "He tries to look at the gap between how people view themselves and how other people view them. One of his main concerns is to burst that bubble. All his characters are hopeless. Issey concentrates on people who are unintentionally dislocated from society."
Take the character of the sad, middle-aged musician who applies to a marriage bureau when his domineering mother dies. "Shared bills leading to a bit of copulation - that's what it's about, isn't it?" he stutters. "Still tied to mother's apron-strings? Me?... The perfect woman? There's only one."
Another character with universal resonance is a politician in a pinstripe suit with a pencil moustache ranting incoherently at a party conference. Like a Japanese Rowley Birkin QC, he pours forth a stream of gibberish interrupted only by the odd comprehensible phrase. "This is what Japan has to tell Britain," he babbles, "blah blah blah."
On the surface, all this may seem like an acquired taste, but I'd advise you to suck it and see. As a fan told me after the performance in Osaka: "his characters feel very close to me - they're like something out of my daily life."
Issey Ogata plays at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave, W1 (0171-494 5045) from 24 Feb to 14 March
Such is the calibre of entries for the Hackney Empire's New Act of the Year competition that, one year, Eddie Izzard only came third. Because of its reputation, the evening has also become a magnet for agents, managers, TV researchers and PRs - one carefully-placed bomb could wipe out the entire comedy industry. Previous winners have included Alan Davies, David Baddiel, Ardal O'Hanlon, Hattie Hayridge, Rob Newman - all of whom went on to achieve TV stardom. The New Act of the Year 1998 competition, compered by Arthur Smith, is at the Hackney Empire, E8 (0181-985 2424) tonight.
Life & Style blogs
Twitter not working: Social network says problem with tweets not showing is fixed
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
Facebook attacked over dead relative photos in 'Year in Review' slides
Grim second life of the 'breastaurant': The oft-loathed sector is booming in the States thanks to Hooters, Twin Peaks and Tilted Kilt
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Doctors remove 80 teeth from boy's jaw
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 5 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...