YAMATO The Drummers of Japan: Hintori – The Wings of the Phoenix Review

Peacock Theatre – until 22 June 2024

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


YAMATO should be available on prescription – their latest show Hintori is a high energy, uplifting celebration of communal and spiritual joy.

Marking YAMATO’s 30th anniversary, Hintori takes the audience on a rhythmic adventure with incredible physicality and showmanship. The drummers work together to build seamless rhythms and each of the drummers get their chance to shine in solo sections. The choreography and dexterity are incredible, and often exhausting to just watch. The final section where the male drummers take off their jackets and you can see the muscles working around their shoulders reveals the physicality needed to drum like this – and they do it for almost 2 hours!

The show celebrates Japanese culture with the glorious tones of the taiko drums and the shamisen; but this is a young company looking to the future and sections that begin with a traditional feel, like the beautiful shamisen solo, soon grow into a group number with the energy of a rock band. Absolutely brilliant.

There is some wonderful humour in the show, with the universal language of mime and clowning making a call and response section a joy. There is also a drumming duel that gets out of hand very quickly, and a wonderful skit of choreographed work on chappa cymbals that brings the house down.

The infectious energy washes over the audience and by the end of the show only the stoniest hearts will be unaffected by the passion and joy of the drummers. An outstanding production for all the family to enjoy.