Mikhail Baryshnikov in US premiere of Yasushi Inoue’s The Hunting Gun at Baryshnikov Arts Center

Mikhail Baryshnikov is set to take to the stage in The Hunting Gun – adapted for the stage by Serge Lamothe and directed by François Girard. The Hunting Gun is a two-hander performed entirely in Japanese starring Miki Nakatani as Shoko, Midori, and Saiko, and Mikhail Baryshnikov in the non-speaking role of Josuke Misugi. 

The Hunting Gun Three letters. One tragedy.

Josuke Misugi receives three letters from different women: his wife, his mistress and her daughter. The first is from young Shoko, who just discovered her mother’s affair through the reading of her diary. The second is from his wife Midori, revealing she’s known about the infidelity from the start. And the third is a farewell from Saiko, his lover of thirteen years: “By the time you read this, I will no longer be among the living.”

Weaving these three viewpoints with consummate skill, one of Japan’s most celebrated authors Yarushi Inoue gives universal resonance to Misugi’s demise. He turns what could have been the mundane account of adultery into a compelling love story that is considered a classic of world literature.

This stage adaptation is a monologue for three voices, and a single actress embodies all three women, transforming before our eyes. At the end of her letter, Shoko drops her school uniform to reveal Midori’s exuberant outfit who, in turn, undresses to slip into Saiko’s funeral kimono.

Behind a scrim presenting fragments of letters, the increasingly tormented hunter Josuke Misugi cleans his gun. He seems to exist in a different time space. The simple action he performs, which would normally take only a few minutes, is stretched through the entire duration of the play: piking up his gun in ultra-slow-motion, inspecting it, meticulously cleaning its barrels and finally standing to aim at his wife’s back.

Borrowing from Japanese Zen aesthetics, the set’s floor is successively draped with three fundamental elements: water, stone, and wood. After Shoko wanders in a lily pond, the waters withdraw to reveal a terrain of smooth black stones. Then, at the climax of Midori’s rage, the stones magically vanish to expose a wooden deck on which Saiko recites her suicide letter.

March 16 – April 15, 2023 at Baryshnikov Arts Center

For more information visit thehuntinggun.org.