Review of 'Yamato - Chousensha - The Challengers'


I love taiko drumming since I first saw it on the Southbank when I was in the second row - I could feel the drumming and there was something primal and exhilarating about the experience. Yamato gave me this same feeling. Am amazing experience.

You might think that an hour and 45 minutes would be too much drumming but Yamato gave us a lot of variety with not only different drums but also with different instruments and the injection of frequent humour (particularly from an eye-catching drummer with a Mohawk-style haircut). In addition to being impeccably performed the pieces were also perfectly choreographed with the ten young players (6 men, 4 women) frequently jumping around the stage and slinging the, doubtless not altogether light, drums about. One scene in the second half follows a big drum session where five of the male drummers come to the front of the stage in front the curtain and have a bit of fun playing with small hand cymbals. Even here they manage to not only captivate with their musicality but also their agility and, again, humour. Another small piece towards the end was with the four woman sitting side by side at the front of the stage playing small drums on the floor in front of them. The pitches of the drums was very much in evidence and, oddly, very melodic.

The large drums of course are the most impressive and where you can literally feel the music in your chest. They make frequent and good use of the larger drums that somehow also manages to feel serene and contemplative at the same time it makes your heart race.

The staging was on several levels where the drums would be placed with the biggest drum generally front and center. The drums themselves are wonderfully painted and must be terribly strong to put up with the wailing that the performers give them. The costumes are light and colourful that add to the dynamism of the performance. Reading the beautiful programme I learned that the group not only work together but live together as well to really gel as a group - Certainly the synchronisation of their playing was spot on throughout despite the players often being at opposite ends of the stage.

There is a theme to the show, “The Challengers”, which the programme attempts to explain that basically boils down to challenging each other to be better and you can see that in the show with the drummers often going back and forth with ever more complicated performances. There are also names for each of the sections but, to be honest, I just took in what was before my eyes rather than on any deeper meaning.

Sitting up in the second row of the circle (first balcony) was certainly a good choice here to take it all in but also to best feel the drums…It has to be said that it is often a LOUD performance but, to be honest, I barely noticed as most of the time I was watching the performance with rapt attention. This was a show that was, above all, extraordinarily fun and full of life. Spotless and, frankly, amazing.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2017-03-22

Peacock Theater

Location: London (England)

Address: Portugal Street, London WC2A 2HT ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Holborn

Telephone: +44 (0) 844 412 4322


The “west end” branch of the Sadler's Wells theatre in Angel, the Peacock is smaller and not as a nice a venue but still with many dance shows that are a staple of it's mother theatre. Located in the basement of the London School of Economics it is relatively secluded with only a few restaurants and bars nearby. There are adequate bars on the stalls and circle levels of the theatre with a cloak room on the stalls level.