Know before you go: “Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and The Farewell Speech” Chelfistch

Office work will suck out your soul.  It will assign you a uniform; it will force you into a square dance of empty social interactions; it will try your patience until you blurt out a string of intimate confessions, sending you on your way with a useless parting gift.  And then, you’re unemployed again.

"Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and the Farewell Speech" presented by Chelfistch (Photo: Toru Yokota)

In “Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and The Farewell Speech,” Tokyo-based Chelfistch makes that mental desperation physical — its characters attempt to have normal interactions while their bodies twitch and rebel against them.  The show opens Friday at REDCAT as part of the internationally leaning RADAR LA theater festival.
A generation of Japan’s young adults have been struggling to find work (let alone meaningful work) since the economy collapsed under them a decade ago — so Chelfistch may present a cautionary tale for Americans just now getting used to living (and planning to live) less optimistically.
The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Donnelly caught a performance earlier this month admitted she found the whole thing “somewhat baffling”:
“Welcome to cubist theatre from the country that invented sushi … Auteur director/choreographer Okada seems to be equally concerned about the shortage of work for his generation and the horror and banality of office incarceration.”

Like many new works hovering somewhere between theater and dance and blank verse poetry, Chelfistch defies my powers of description (even armed with a fat thesaurus) — so have a look at their last show, and hear from the director (in English):