Mesujika DOE at the Playwrights' Center is a compelling cultural collaboration

Mesujika DOE premiered last night in a work-in-progress staging at the Playwrights' Center, and it turned out to be an unconventional and affecting piece of theater. Tonight is your last chance to see it in this incarnation; it will have you puzzling out its hard-edged, dream-like themes for some time after you make your way home.

The play is a collaboration between the Twin Cities' Trista Baldwin and Japan's Shirotama Hitsujiya. The work is inspired by Baldwin's 2006

Workhaus Collective



, though while some of its themes are intact, it has been put into a dramatic blender and subsequently become something else indeed.

The story concerns Jane (Birgit Huppuch), an American living in Japan with Japanese husband Ichiro (Masa Kawahara). On a drive to the market, she has struck a deer (Kristine Haruna Lee, in stylized fashion); this minor calamity comes to symbolize lost identity, change, a search for wholeness and, eventually, domestic homicide.

But don't let me spoil it for you. The show is running tonight only, for a suggested donation of $10 (details here). Suffice to say that it's an adventuresome, emotionally violent thing, held together by a discomfiting vision and a fascinating union of two theater artists (the U.S.-Japan connection is interesting, but also nearly impossible to totally unravel, since Baldwin and Hitsujiya are both distinctive creators).

There's also a compelling quality to seeing a work still in the process of gestation. Last night, the final scene of the play was directed by Baldwin and Hitsujiya in front of the audience, underscoring both the show's queasy immediacy and the fact that what we see on stage is always, in one sense or another, in a state of flux.

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