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JC Lee’s world premiere of CRANE has taken flight at the Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company, and it is a one act delight. Lee is a writer for ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” and HBO’s “Looking”, and NOHspace is the perfect black box for this wonderful work. The story is based on Sadako Sasaki, an infant during the bombing of Hiroshima. Suffering from leukemia, the 12 year old followed the legend that promises a wish will be acknowledged to a person who folds 1,000 paper origami cranes. The story goes that she passed away before the effort was complete, but her faith and tale is important to this day. Her spirit lives on if not wanting to fly or be a modern day Peter Pan.

Some of Lee’s past work has been produced at Berkeley Impact Theatre and Sleepwalkers. This new work under the artistic direction of Lily Tung Crystal, who produced CRANE at her Lotus Theatre Company. CRANE directed by Mina Morita is the perfect match for Lee’s classic and contemporary telling of this fable, including fun urban speak mixed with poetic tones and a modern mix of music. Lee’s style of script is mixed with contemporary tones as well as classic fairly tale sweetness, as Sadako takes flight. Morita says "JC Lee mixes the poetry of our human experience with the absurdity of our everyday concerns to create this stunning play.” Lee explains, “I was interested in how mythology persists through history. Why do certain stories resonate and iterate over and over across cultures? Both myths are beautiful and timeless. Yet the Crane Wife myth at its core is terribly sexist. I thought: why not reframe the whole thing from her point of view. Combining the myths enabled me to give her far more depth and control over the choices she makes in the play.”

Monrita has assembled an excellent cast including Greg Ayers as Bradley the lone artist. The talented sweeping Monica Ho as Sadako. Lily Tung Crystal as the mother and Doctor. Leon Goertzen as the Merchant, on a wonderful set designed by Kuo-Hao Lo. The glow of the moon and the projections as designed by Lo are very impressive .The color scheme of the costumes by Keiko Shimosato Carreiro is very earth toned, with the mom and Sadako, Bradley in green and the Art buyer in blue tones. Carreiro crafted Sadako wings that set the image to the story against the Crane and moon as a sweeping backdrop.

The story is based much on the book 1000 Cranes, Sadako a young adventurer who needs to leave home to find what's missing in life. She feels the need to fly and the fairy tale notion of the story takes flight. Is its a dream, real, or another door opening to learn her real quest. Her travels lead her to a cabin in snow covered hills, and she meets Bradley, an artist stuck and dealing with his loss to create. Sadako becomes the muse in his life and she creates amazing tapestries that he uses to restart his lacking career. The Merchant arrives to see the new works and Bradley is back in the art game. The question of a dream “art is the aftermath of truth” is the topic between the two.

Ho is excellent and convincing as Sadako, and glows with the poet pro’s of the story, and she is skilled when Lee changes the tone of the word speak. Ayers is compassionate as the lost artist, yet on the verge of being the villain as he uses her to promote his career. Sadako schools the artist “Kill a motherfucker and eat the bones until they’re your bones,” and Bradley looks puzzled. Leon Goertzen, the Merchant adds dreams to his future by reminding him he can get a refrigerator that talks to him, just get him more art as creative as his new muse created for him.

Lily Tung Crystal, plays both the grieving mother and doctor that looks after Sadako injures she develops after helping Brad with his art, she is always excellent especially as the mother in search of her fly away daughter. Crystal is stunning in both rolls. The story runs close to two hours and explores the fantasy, dream, art and imagination. As the Sadako’s takes flight and journeys as a tinker bell reference into the Brads world - it is very reminiscent to J.M. Barrie’s work Peter Pan. Reality vs fairy tale, but Lee keeps it contemporary and this keeps this fairy tale very engaging. The background story about the young survivor of the A bomb dealing with from radiation sickness and slow death - she attempts to fold 1,000 paper cranes so her wish could be granted, a Japanese fable so very moving.

“Crane” is engaging theatre and mix with Lee’s classic fairy tale to sly blue topics, and talking appliances. The Myths and images of Japanese storytelling are excellent and the flight of the CRANE is wonderful. It runs through Oct 11th at NOHSpace, and closing weekend is offering some good discounts - follow the links below.

Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company Presents


by JC Lee

at NOH Space, San Francisco,

through October 11.

2840 Mariposa St., San Francisco.

Tickets are $15-$35. Call 415-322-0859 or click>

Director: Mina Morita. Scenic Design: Kuo-Hao Lo. Costume Design: Keiko Shimosato Carreiro. Lighting Design: Kevin Landesman. Sound Design: Emily Fassler. Properties Design: Yusuke Soi.


Bradley: Greg Ayers. Mother/Doctor: Lilly Tung Crystal. Gallery Owner: Leon Goertzen. Sadako: Monica Ho.


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