MY COMPLEX’s No Sanction has a worthy premise and asks one exceptionally thought-provoking question, but as a whole, fails to deliver.
I’d argue Japanese company MY COMPLEX present No Sanction as something it’s not in the Fringe programme: a story about finding yourself, seeking a ‘sense of belonging’ and examining existence. In reality, it’s a one-man performance focused on negativities (complaints, even) about existence, but done in a way that is more irritable than relatable for its audience.
The first negative impression of the performance comes from a technical aspect: the actor and playwright Yuuya Ishizone struggles with the text, especially the pronunciation. Whilst everyone who takes on the challenge of performing in a foreign language should get applauded for effort – it’s a ridiculously difficult thing to do, even when you are fluent in the said language – those who decide to do it need to ensure they can deliver the text fully without stammering, pronouncing everything clearly regardless of accent. In cases where that cannot be done, the shows would be much more understandable and thus enjoyable if performed in the native language of the artist with English subtitles.
However, even putting the technicalities of text-delivery aside, No Sanction fails to examine either belonging or existence in a particularly significant way. There’s some great bits of the show – the question of whether a country is truly at peace if a large percentage of its population are committing suicide is thought-provoking and captures one of the biggest problems of the moment, but it’s perhaps the only memorable part of a confused show. The rest of the text feels like a monologue of a teenager, who’s angry that not everything goes their way but isn’t prepared to do anything to change that – which in itself is not hugely engaging.
With a very simple set design, almost no props, grey sweatshirt, sweatpants, and a paper bag on this head, there’s little to rescue No Sanction from the lacking text and its problematic delivery. It’s a worthy premise built around a thought-provoking question, but unfortunately as a whole, it does not deliver.