Out There 2014 The Room Nobody Knows: Sometimes the flute is a phallus

A scene fromThe Room Nobody Knows.
A scene fromThe Room Nobody Knows.
Image courtesy Walker Art Center

Like an extended look into someone's raw psyche, The Room Nobody Knows is destined to make the viewer a tad uncomfortable.

Crafted by Japan's Niwa Gekidan Penino and presented as part of the Walker Art Center's Out There 2014 theater festival, the work is a blazing kaleidoscope of images, sounds, and situations.

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And phalluses. Lots and lots of phalluses. After the curtain is drawn on the purpose-built stage, you can see plenty of them around the background. Then a pair of helper "elves" begin to push phallic chairs on the stage that don't really leave anything to the imagination.

The id on display belongs to a man whose dreams center on his own failures (he says he has been in high school for 27 years, still trying to understand the math exams) and an intense attraction to his own brother.

The show builds on incidents rather than giving us an unfolding plot. Even without a story, it offers a clear path into what makes the characters tick. It's also loaded with unexpected imagery, such as the two brothers locking into love-making that turns into a bit of wrestling, ending with the younger one tapping out to the hold. 

Inside of his cramped apartment (it's maybe three feet high, forcing the characters to huddle and crawl), the younger brother has crafted "gifts" for his brother's birthday, including a quartet of phallus heads that represent four phases of the elder man: the avant-garde, the revolutionary, the feminine, and "pop."

Tellingly, creator Kuro Tamino is 1) a middle brother and 2) a trained psychiatrist. Beyond this, he uses his skills as a theater maker to present an uncomfortable, unflinching, and entertaining hour.


Niwa Gekidan Penino: The Room Nobody Knows
7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.375.7600 or visit online.
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Walker Art Center

1750 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403


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