Seven Streams of the River Ota

Conceived by Robert Lepage, the play is in 7 acts covering the period from the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 to the present day. Lepage used video and images to great effect mixed in with opera singing and some very bizarre scenes.

The first four acts are simply superb and gripping . However it's down hill from then on. There were still some great theatre to be had but the last few acts were getting a little off subject and a little harder to understand. I thought all the acts would be connected in some way, but somewhere along the line I lost it. The ending could not come quick enough for me. If the play had ended around act 4, it would have been a great drama. I felt it was stretched out too much with scenes that had no bearing on the story at all.

Generally the story started with an American soldier who in 1945 is sent to Hiroshima to take photographs of the buildings devastated by the bomb. However he comes across a women scarred by the bomb. He has a brief relationship with her then leaves her to go back to America.

Years later in New York, 1965 set in a lodging house, an half Japanese, half American man called Jeffrey rents a room there. (He is actually the son of the American soldier, and his mother is the woman the soldier had an affair with). However, living in the same house is his half brother, none of the men know they are brothers at this stage. There are some hilarious scenes in this act which is probably the best of them all.

In the next act set in Amsterdam, 1985 , Jeffrey's half brother (who is also called Jeffrey) has AIDS, and asks a female friend to marry him so he could have a controlled suicide. (Apparently euthanasia is allowed in this country if you are a citizen). This act is the most touching and thought provoking .

After this the story sort of went in all directions which made it all difficult to piece together. The best way to view this play is not to try and look for a continual story, but to view it has 7 different stories.

The acting is excellent by all the performers and the sets very ingenious.

I suggest if you have the opportunity to see this drama in two parts , then see the first part only (this consists of the first 4 acts) and forget about the second.

(Darren Dalglish)

Originally published on

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