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Throne of Blood: A to Z

Depending on your point of view, "Throne of Blood" represents the death or the bloody new beginning of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as we know it.

First things first.

"Throne" is as crazy as anything you'll ever see at the OSF.

How to describe the stage version of Akira Kurosawa's classic take on "Macbeth"?

Well, I'd say it's a cross between the source material, "The Exorcist" and a Kiss concert. All rolled into one gory ball of nihilism, folks.

Sound fun? My favorite aspect of the "Throne" idea is how the media is selling it as kid-friendly fare relative to OSF's traditional offerings.

Let's see. There's sword fighting, a creepy woods, complete with smoke and gnarled trees, cool costumes and plenty of jumping around and grunting. These are things the kiddies will dig.

But this is minor trim on an otherwise bleak and diseased house. You also have to factor in the sterile, loveless marriage that is the play's centerpiece, the back-biting political intrigue that makes one hate all ruling classes and a vision of femininity that suggests women are at best evil harpies bent on sewing destruction with every breath they take, and at worst, seething timebombs of sexually repressed ire that spell doom for every man in which they make contact.

Are your spirits lifted? You still want to bring little Frankie and Jenny to this Freudian horror show?

I would. They need to see this to prepare themselves for life beyond middle school.

I planned to review the play at length, giving my take on why it complements Kurosawa's film rather than attempts to replicate its beguiling power.

I went into "Throne" without the trepidation one would expect of a Kurosawa disciple. For one thing, it ranks as one of his second-tier films in my book. Toshiro Mifune is great, as always, but the pacing lags in several key places and the supporting cast is not up to Kurosawa's usual standards.

Ping Chong's stage version hits all the notes and actually does the film one better in terms of pacing. And the actors bring it scene in and scene out, with stars Kevin Kenerly (Washizu) and Ako (Lady Asaji) doing fine expressive work while clad in some pretty outrageous costumes.

A review should do three things: 1. Highlight the most interesting or insulting aspects of a play; 2. Make some philosophical, cultural, historical or political statement about the play; and 3. Steer you toward other materials similar in scope and tone to the play that you might enjoy.

And so, in honor of a crazy play, I will present an insane review of "Throne of Blood" alphabetically, in loose (very, very loose in places) verse. And in doing so, I hope to accomplish my three goals for review writing.

For your pleasure:

A is for Akira Kurosawa, who started this mission.

B is for blades, dealing stage deaths with precision.

C is for Cristofer Jean, who plays one creepy vision.

D is for Danforth Comins, who nails another role cold.

is for entropy, the way "Throne's" universe unfolds.

F is for fighting, you'll get plenty of that here.

G is for God, from this story He stays clear.

H is for hubris, it cometh before Washizu's fall.

I is for inevitable, the fate that awaits them all.

J is for jokes, there's a few scattered here and there.

K is for Kevin Kenerly, who almost matches Mifune, I swear.

L is for Lady Asaji, her black smile matching her heart.

M is for Medieval Japan, a society coming apart.

is for the nightmares, which that damn Forest Spirit inspired.

O is for the occult, in which Washizu found himself mired.

P is for Ping Chong, whose vision sinks to our marrow.

Q is for the quiver, that housed the killing arrow.

R is for "Ran," Kurosawa's second-best flick.

S is for Spider Web Forest, where the fog hangs thick.

T is for Toshiro Mifune, the Man woulda been proud.

is for ugly, the sight of a bloody shroud.

V is for victory, it came with a price.

W is for William Shakespeare, who needs this guy?

X is for the X over our late hero's eyes.

Y is for Yakuza, which sprang from this tribe.

Z is for "Zatoichi," another samurai epic well worth your time.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.