Issey Ogata is not only a virtuoso actor, he is a cultural rarity - a Japanese comedian. Next month, he brings his one-man show to London for a limited three-week run at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue from Tuesday, 24 February 1998.
In Japan, Ogata has become something of a phenomenon - his Tokyo shows not only sell out, they occasion a box-office draw to find out which of up to 20,000 people will qualify for tickets. His upcoming West End run marks a return to Britain following his debut in this country in October 1995. Ogata will perform in his native Japanese; simultaneous translations will be available via headphones for all UK performances.
Ogata's comic art is based on observations of normal characters and everyday occurrences which he uses to provide incisive insights into humanity and modern society. Already, he has introduced the Western world to many memorable characters, including contorted commuters on the Tokyo subway, a psychotic mother-in-law on a Hawaiian beach holiday, a drunken businessman sleeping in an alley and a right-wing, gibberish-spouting politician.
Issey Ogata's solo show replaces the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Cyrano de Bergerac, starring Antony Sher, which closes 14 February. The production, the first between the RSC and Criterion Productions, enjoyed a successful Stratford premiere and a sell-out national tour before its critically acclaimed reception in the West End in late November. There are no plans currently to take the show elsewhere although the RSC says there is the possibility of international interest.