Let me be honest—I'm not really much of a theatre person. I tend to prefer films, particularly those with George Clooney in them. That being said however, having recently viewed The Floating World, I'll concede that live theatre may be just as entertaining as a movie.
The Floating World is a vivid enactment of one manʾs battle with his inner demons. Set in the 1970's, Les and Irene Harding are celebrating their wedding anniversary with a cruise to Japan. As the ship sets sail, however, Les, a former prisoner of war, starts to float away from reality. While his wife amusingly struggles to deal with other cultures (such as referring to Muslims as ʽMuslins'), Les struggles to escape his past.
As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Les suffered greatly during his imprisonment, and much of his contempt for all around him serves as a way of expressing the anger that he's carried with him for nearly two decades. Despite the fact that most of Les' comments have either a racist or sexist undertone to them, he can't help but inspire sympathy, due to his tragic experiences and his difficulty in overcoming them. While Les appears to be culturally insensitive, the audience is able to accept him as he is: a product of a more conservative Australia, and a victim of intolerable circumstances.
Told with quick wit and many insider jokes (you'd have to be an Aussie to get them), The Floating World is a comic look at the tragic repercussions of war and xenophobia. Despite the humour, the play deals with real world issues, and is definitely a 'must-see' for history fans. Nevertheless, if you like tragic comedies, go see this play – if for nothing else than to see all the amusing cultural faux-pas.