Onnagoroshi Abura no Jigoku
Murder in a Hell of Oil
By Chikamatsu Monzaemon
The story of the Murder in a Hell of Oil was originally written as a puppet play in 1709 and was not performed as a kabuki play until two hundred years later in 1909.
Yohei, the son of an oil merchant, lives a life of abandon, squandering his family's money on extravagances and spending all his time in the pleasure quarters. Okichi, the wife of another oil merchant, develops feelings for him and takes him in, but his debauchery runs to excess. As his debts mount higher and higher, Yohei's parents come to Okichi begging her to persuade him to return home, offering their small savings as an incentive. Watching secretly, Yohei is touched by his parents' concern, but his debts have become too great. In desperation, he begs Okichi to lend him more money, but she adamantly refuses. At a loss as to what to do, Yohei lashes out at her in frenzied despair, bringing the play to the climactic moment that gives it its title.
Kataoka Nizaemon (b. 1944) debuted in the role of Yahei in 1964 to such widespread acclaim that it has become his signature role. He reprises it here in a June 2009 performance that was part of the farewell series marking the closing of the Tokyo Kabukiza Theatre (now undergoing a complete rebuild). This performance also costars Nizaemon's son Takataro (b. 1968) and grandson Sennosuke (b. 2000), for a rare three-generation joint appearance.
DOUBLE-BILL, ONE SHOWING ONLY
at the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas, 88 West Pender Street
Sunday, February 26:
1:00 p.m. Murder in a Hell of Oil 女殺し油の地獄, 110 minutes, VANCOUVER PREMIER
3:30 p.m. Heron Maiden 鷺娘, 32 minutes
Tickets are $20 (plus tax) for Murder in a Hell of Oil and
$15 (plus tax) for Heron Maiden.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.cineplex.com or in person at the theatre.