The independent London newspaper

Sunshine brings a smile

06 October, 2017 — By Emily Finch

KATSURA Sunshine (above) is one of a kind, literally. He is the only officially qualified non-Japanese rakugo master after he apprenticed for 10 years under Katsura Bunshi VI. Sunshine, real name Greg Robic, worked his way up from cleaning his master’s home to learning centuries-old comic stories – rakugo – which he has translated into English and now performs.

Originally hailing from Toronto, he calls Camden his home during his stints in London, and he can often be heard clacking down the High Street in his traditional Japanese shoes.

His performing name was given to him by his master, and Sunshine, in Japanese, does not just refer to his blinding platinum locks but also to his lineage.

What might surprise people is that in Japanese there are more than 40 ways of saying thank you with the most polite version taking around 15 seconds to complete. But more surprising is the fact that Canadian Katsura Sunshine can fire them off in quick succession.

He masterfully points out the idiosyncrasies of the Japanese language in his new niche comedy show at the Leicester Square Theatre.

The 10-performance run is his West End debut following a sell-out show at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Sunshine provides a highly unique and hilarious hour and a half where you actually feel you’re learning about another culture amid the laughter.

During his show on Sunday, he started with unravelling what it is to be a “rakugo” master. Rakugo is a 400-year-old art form in Japan where one person – most definitely a man – sits on a flat pouffe in the middle of a stage and spins tales which has been passed down from master to student for generations.

Resembling Janus with two faces, Sunshine tilts his head to signal a different character in his layered stories of comic deceit and tomfoolery.

Not to be missed!

• Katsura Sunshine: Rakugo is at Leicester Square Theatre until October 15, 020 7734 2222.


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