Eduardo Okamoto has played this piece for seven years now and it has become part of his identity. Even so, his portrayal of Pedrinha, a vulnerable Brazilian street kid, remains volatile. Charged spontaneity is maintained here by Okomato’s access to cardinal dance disciplines, in a global sense. To see how he coils his spine in intensely low squats then rises up as if impelled and how he shape-shifts his bared abdomen and ribcage in an intoxication of unbound expression (extending to plangent vocals) is to know full-blown physical immersion.
Witnessing Now and at the Time of Our Turn requires punters sit around darkened edges and ponder two intersecting strips of light (oops, a cross!) within which Okamato’s Pedrinha waits entrapped. Then, flailing backwards and forwards, spilling his soul, neurotically all akimbo but finding sudden animal reflexes of terrified stillness, he has us learn (and retain) how his persona has become deranged by a mindless trauma he has witnessed. Stellar actors and dramatists all find ways to do this but here it is rendered searingly individual. Before his skull becomes the resonant instrument of self harm, we repeatedly notice the articulate detail of how this head, neck and throat (bearing crucifix and precious earring) suspend an eloquent mechanism for primal outlet, right up from the gut, up and over the muscular tongue. This visionary sensuality delights to the degree that we can’t fail to know the nugget of marvel deeply embedded in kids gone feral. Hence, the narration of their brutal destiny flays us but also inspires.
This artist and his director, Veronica Fabrini, have examined a troubled terrain and mastered the means (including a basic but telling Anglo/Portuguese script) to take us there and to haul us back emotionally dishevelled. Dazed, I felt my way out of the premises, oddly cherishing the hope that, taking his cue from Pedrinha’s final wishes, Edoardo Okamoto might someday free himself from the crucifying burden of this piece. His future playing, choreography or dancing would be astonishing I’m sure, but meanwhile he is phenomenally present this way.
Review by Matthew Hawkins
Writer and performer Eduardo Okamoto’s one-man show takes as its inspiration the true story of the Candelaria Slaughter – when in 1993, Brazilian policemen killed eight street children in the middle of Rio de Janeiro.
Okamoto plays Pedrinha, another street kid who has witnessed the killings while hidden on top of a newsstand.
At first, we find this child – like a kind of feral cat – hunting for rats and we follow him on a journey that sees him get high on crack, eat stones and engage in various quasi-religious rituals.
The thread of the story is not always clear – partly intentionally to reflect Pedrinha’s mental state, partly because large swathes of the production has him muttering in Portuguese – but Okamoto’s energetic performance is enough to carry the production along, despite its vagaries.
He is physically hugely impressive, adopting the twitches and mannerisms of someone living on the very edge of sanity and society. At one point he tries to make a drum beat by banging his head against the floor.
It is a disturbing and deeply affecting performance and one which has clearly been honed over a number of years of touring the show and from first-hand experience working with street children. This is not an easy production to watch – and sometimes to follow – but it is one that is very much worth seeing.
Review by Alistair Smith