As there are only two people acting throughout the entire one hour and 40 minutes, the storyline of the play is quite simple. The setting of the play is in Japan during the 1940s, when the country participated in World War II. The country had lost smile and laughter during this time.
The writer put censorship on newly written play “Romeo and Juliet” which has a new take on the original play of Shakespeare. However, the censor continues to ask the writer to modify the work by changing the main character from Romeo to Hamlet and adding the lines “Tenno heika banzai(Long live the king).” The censor thought comedy is useless in that generation. He compels the writer to delete every comical scene in the script. The writer who wanted to keep the laugh conflicted with the censor who was displeased at the writer’s script throughout the play.
This conflict made me think about today’s reality. Although creative freedom is considered precious these days, writers send their works to inspectors. Inspectors are not government officials, but readers. Authors have to listen to what people say and reflect their comments because their opinions have great spreading effects. Writers cannot sustain their income if they have no support from readers.
However, if writers write to pass censorship from readers, their work may lose its original message. It is important for writers to stick with their own messages.
Writers have to enlighten readers and make readers think. These thought provoking messages make the society better.
I think nowadays readers are not trying to get the message; they are just evaluating the value of writings. This has to be changed.
In that sense, the writer of “The College of the Laugh” succeeded to deliver his strong message to protect the comedy to the spectator.
This comedy is full of loud laughs. The censor, who changes as time passes, and the script, which becomes funnier after revision, amused me throughout the play.
The last 15 minutes of the play is somewhat calm and deep, contrasting from the big laughs presented in the first part.
If you want a nice laugh, I encourage you to see this play.