Review: The Unfolding of Benjamin's Misery
Written and Performed by Hideto Ambiguous
Square Edge Community Arts Centre
Review Date: 7/02/2020
On Friday night at Square Edge Community Arts Centre in Palmerston North, Hideto Ambiguous bared his body and soul to present The Unfolding of Benjamin’s Misery.
It was a small room, which accommodated an intimate audience, with a basic stage which was only slightly elevated above the audience. There was no backstage area to slip behind the curtains and peer out at the audience, there were no shadows to lurk in, there wasn’t even mood lighting. Hideto Ambiguous had to master the space, and he did.
The Unfolding of Benjamin’s Misery is an award-winning one-person show (having won the 'Best Words and Ideas' award at the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2019) in which Hideto showcases a range of talents including spoken-word poetry, story-telling, singing, ukulele playing and his uniquely entertaining ‘Asian’ dancing.
The show started about fifteen minutes late, but as it turns out that was when we as the audience were playing our role—a clever device which subtly reinforced the themes of us and them. We were watching a show as an audience but were also the audience in the show. There was also an unexpected guest cameo—a blowfly which became expertly woven into the tapestry of the show and showed how supremely Hideto governed the stage.
Benjamin’s misery really did unfold in front of us, like an intricately folded artwork with new things to discover under each new layer. Hideto performed multiple characters, with unique accents and postures who came to life with such natural ability that for a moment I started imagining there was a backstage where all the characters resided.
It was perhaps fitting, given the subject material, that Hideto had only the clothes on his body, a ukulele and a few coins to use as props. With a small audience unable to be distracted by moving or colourful props how was it that Benjamin made us see things so clearly?
It is a true inside story, as Benjamin sheds his problems in front of us, and we observe the evolution of Benjamin. Powerful story-telling works to break down barriers between cultures and expose the beating, human heart at the centre of us all. Every step of the journey created the Benjamin we saw before us, and it was fitting that we observed that through past, present and future layers of story.
Although the subject material illuminates the shadowy world of exploited migrant workers, Benjamin is gentle and kind, offering options, possibilities and ideas for dealing with these challenges. Benjamin is nobody and everybody. He opened up a portal to his vulnerabilities, and struggles and then offered hope, and the potential for happiness. I laughed and smiled, frowned and sighed, as Benjamin unraveled his journey.
We get to see the breaking and making of Benjamin and how he chooses to take control of his life by using his gifts to improve life for himself and other Benjamins. I am grateful for the gift of Benjamin that now resides in me.
It was both a privilege and a pleasure to experience this performance by an exceptionally skilled artist whom I expect to see carrying on to do many great things.
As well as being the winner of Liverpool Poetry Slam 2018 (UK), Hideto's first poetry collection, “Foreigners in Me” will soon be published by Lastbench/Antivirus productions in Liverpool, UK. Hideto Ambiguous is someone to watch as he takes multiple talents, this show, and a new one he is currently developing, on the road internationally. You can follow his Facebook Page or his Instagram Account to keep up with upcoming projects (I will be).
I talk and think a lot, here I share the love and the words and the thoughts. Take it or leave it...