Murakami's Flying Circus

If you were a British stage director looking for foreign material to adapt, you'd likely avoid anything in Japanese, a language whose subtleties have tormented translators for centuries. And you definitely wouldn't choose Haruki Murakami, whose witty, noirish best sellers about contemporary Japan (Norwegian Wood, A Wild Sheep Chase) combine the mundane and the surreal with daunting complexity.

So, of course, Simon McBurney had to try. His London-based Complicite theater group teamed up last year with Tokyo's Setagaya Public Theatre to tackle Murakami. ("Japan's Kafka," McBurney calls him.) The result, The Elephant Vanishes, has played to packed houses...

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