Home » London Theatre Reviews » YAMATO: The Drummers of Japan – The Wings of Phoenix | Review

YAMATO: The Drummers of Japan – The Wings of Phoenix | Review

Among the many meanings ascribed to Yamato (大和) is the phrase Great Harmony. It is the perfect word to describe the “drummers of Japan” and their new show – Hinotori, or The Wings of Phoenix, which has just opened at London’s Peacock Theatre.

YAMATO: The Drummers of Japan. Photo credit: Genta Ogawa.
YAMATO: The Drummers of Japan. Photo credit: Genta Ogawa.

At one level the performances of the men and women of the Yamato drummers appears superficially to be no more than synchronised drumming, perhaps coming somewhere between the planned chaos of Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics and the clockwork precision of the equivalent event at the Beijing Games. However, ‘Hinotori’ is so much more. Pounding, exhilarating, dramatic, spectacular and, above all, hugely entertaining, this new show – marking the group’s 30th anniversary – is superb. There are many standout moments of beauty and power, including a shamisen quintet, a spell of tympanic table tennis and in the second half, after a thrilling opening number, a double duel of drummers that perfectly blends music and comedy, especially from one of the musicians, Kenta Ono. And while engagement with the audience is to a degree constrained by the performers’ lack of English, their warmth and charisma carry them through. By the end the audience is on their feet, and one very young fan spoke for many more when she shouted up at the stage, “You really are amazing!”.

Highly recommended.

5 Star Rating

Review by Louis Mazzini

Drummers Akiko OgawaMika MiyazakiMarika NitoJun Kato, Kenta Ono, Naoki Ekihiro, Nene Miura, Jo Nakamura, Daisuke Jonai, Tatsuya Iwaki, Genta Ogawa, Wakaba Sudani, Yumesa Tanaka

Director Masa Ogawa
Music Composer Masa Ogawa / Mika Miyazaki
Costume Designer Akiko Ogawa
Production Manager Chisako Ogawa / Satomi Ikeda
Technical Manager Marika Nito

YAMATO’s performance is more than just a musical show – it’s an immersive journey that transcends boundaries of language and culture. With thunderous beats and dynamic choreography, YAMATO invites you to experience the universal language of rhythm, where every strike of the drum resonates with centuries of tradition and the indomitable spirit of the human soul. As the pulsating heartbeat of the drums fills the theatre, you’ll find yourself swept up in a whirlwind of emotion and excitement. From the powerful resonance of the taiko drums to the graceful movements of the performers, every moment is infused with a sense of wonder and exhilaration.

YAMATO: The Drummers of Japan present Hinotori / The Wings of Phoenix

4 to 22 June 2024

Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, London WC2A 2HT

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