The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
Morgan O-Yuki, Geisha of the Gilded Age

I have been a citizen of no country— Morgan O-Yuki about heer marriage to George D. Morgan which took her to America but never allowed her to be part of it and her continued sense of not belonging when she returned to Japan.
Morgan O-Yuki, Geisha of the Gilded Age
Even though Morgan O-Yuki was never invited to the Morgan family's Gilded Age mansion in Lenox, you couldn't wish for a more apt setting for the solo play about her than the magnificently restored Ventfort Hall. Morgan O-Yuki, Geisha of the Gilded Age was in fact expressly written for presentation at the mansion which, like so many of these grand old estates, has become a museum and venue for tours, lectures and, occasionally, plays like the bio-drama that just opened a summer-long

O-Yuki was actually more interesting than her wealthy relatives by marriage, all of whom except her husband's sister snubbed her. No wonder that she's been the source of a musical and a best selling novel (Arthur Golden's Memoir of a Geisha). However, this small bio-drama is something special. As written by Ventfort Hall's late resident historian Natsuko Ohama it's uniquely site specific since the Morgan's Ventfort Hall estate is an apt symbol of the overall unwelcoming reception that led to Morgan's taking his young wife to live in Paris.

The hallway of the mansion-cum-museum has been set up as an intimate theater to allow O-Yuki to be welcomed to Ventfort at last. Granted our narrator and star is O-Yuki's ghostly alter ego the lovely young actress Mayu Iwasaki and the story she tells us spans her very eventful 82 year life.

Morgan O-Yuki, Geisha of the Gilded Age
Ventfort Hall in Lenox, Mass.
The script has the aura of a flavorful ghost story set in a place haunted by a woman who's never set foot in it. However, it's structured as a straightforward narrative that begins and ends to the strains of Puccini's Madame Butterfly written around the same time as the O-Yuki-Morgan marriage. The link to Butterfly is apt even though the lover who abandoned this young Geisha was a young Japanese and her dream of marriage was fulfilled by her American suitor. Thus, while not left to her own devices in her native country, this "Butterfly" had to deal with the lack of acceptance by her American family and her husband's continuing dalliances with other women. Since O-Yuki means snowflake, the name may be used to point out difference between Puccini's young woman and the one whose story is being told.

Though the he entire Ventfort hallway — including a balcony where Yuki introduces herself — serves as the stage, set designer Carl Sprague has created a wonderfully atmospheric and authentic small stage within the grand overall setting. I can't compare the current production to the 2006 premiere with a different actor and director but no doubt the gorgeous kimonos worn by the Japan born Ms Iwasaki which belonged to her own grandmother add to the visual pleasures of this reprise.

While the play runs just a little over an hour it covers a lot of ground: We see a young woman forced by her family's financial circumstances to become a breadwinner, with the most profitable career path open to young women at the turn of last century being that of a Geisha. While Yoki doesn't seem to mind the Geisha's life she does dream of finding not just a prime patron but a husband. And though the Eastern culture smitten George Morgan seems the answer to that dream, the marriage comes about only after the young man she's loved rejects her for a wealthy young and "pure" woman.

And so, though this across-the-cultural-borders union isn't exactly a match made in heaven, Yoki and George stay together (in Paris) until his death. The problems of being relegated to outsider status, a citizen of no country, continue when she returns to Japan in 1936 where her situation is exacerbated by the Japan-US hostilities. Yoki nevertheless remained in Japan to the end of her life.

No doubt the Morgans would be amazed to see the woman they regarded as an imposter doing this tell-all turn in the mansion that was one of many of the area's palaces built by the one-percenters of the Gilded Age. But then, they woul be equally amazed to see it all pristine as ever, but open as a museum and theater to the other 99% visiting the Berkshires for the summer.

Morgan O-Yuki, Geisha of the Gilded Age
Written by Natsuko Ohama expressly for the 2006 production
Directed by Enrico Spada
Cast: Mayu Iwasaki
Set design by Carl Sprague
Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:00 pm; Fridays and Saturdays, 4:00 pm; Sundays, 10:00 am.
Opening 6/28/13; closing 9/01/13
Tickets are $25.
Presented by Ventfort Hall, in the Ventfort Hall Mansion 104 Walker Street Lenox,MA 0in conjunction with Shakespeare & Company
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer 7/13/13
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Morgan O-Yuki, Geisha of the Gilded Age
  • I disagree with the review of Morgan O-Yuki, Geisha of the Gilded Age
  • The review made me eager to see Morgan O-Yuki, Geisha of the Gilded Age
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

©Copyright 2013, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from