Warped limbs, exaggerated hand gestures, and anguished faces -- images inspired by Japanese butoh, the postwar avant-garde movement school that draws its power from the internal combustion of introspection -- make up the core of inkBoat's solos and partnering vignettes. Other fiery elements include a trio of screeching Furies who torment our fallen hero, mimicking his decay by dangling their own bloody tentacles from the wings of the stage.
Founded in 1994, inkBoat strives for what Koga calls "an alchemy of forms, creating relationships between Asian and Western movement, theater and music styles." In Cockroach, the abstract drama uses cinematic devices -- from still frames to slow motion to car-chase velocity -- and improvisational techniques derived from Koga's study of Action Theater to create a natural ebb and flow in the tension. A deeply percussive live soundtrack, echoing both the din of an industrial junkyard and the tuneful symphonic beats of 20th-century classical maven Iannis Xenakis, heightens the sense of unbearable sorrow.
Though it is largely a serious work, flashes of dark existentialist comedy emerge, for example, when the estranged wife slaps the broken man and when she erupts into a fit of absurd giddiness. But much like the unexpected humor in Kafka's stories, these events trigger a chuckle that fades into uneasiness, mirroring the dying man's uncomfortable metamorphosis into frog, lizard, snake, and insect. It is as if only devolution will save his empty soul.