The Mikado Reclaimed (2016)
The Mikado: Reclaimed is set in a future internment camp where the characters suffer through racism and deal with the implications of yellowface. Other modern touches are added to the production, including queer love stories and the dissection of xenophobia and sexism. The performance features a select few of The Mikado’s original score, but is largely rewritten.
The vibrant colors, intricate fabric designs, and elaborate backdrops that are fundamental to The Mikado and many of its adaptations, are all stripped bare in The Mikado: Reclaimed. The essence of Japanese architecture and gardens is replaced by solemn wooden bunks, while striking costumes are swapped for modern, raggedy comfort wear.
Like The McAdo, The Mikado: Reclaimed was a direct response to the racism of the original Gilbert and Sullivan production. The drab set design and lack of costume flare not only cements the melancholic feel of the internment camp atmosphere, but also forces the audience to focus on the narrative. As opposed to Gilbert and Sullivan’s initial production, The Mikado: Reclaimed is more concerned with making impactful social and political commentary than it is with creating a spectacle.
Rather than alter the setting to adhere to an all-White cast, The Mikado: Reclaimed employs Asian-American actors and focuses on addressing racial injustice. The 2016 production came at the height of the United States’ greatest period of cramped immigration detention centers and racist anti-Muslim ideologies. The show tackles similar real world themes as well as queer entanglements in the wake of growing homophobic rhetoric in Trump’s America.