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The earnestly desirous woman, known only as "the customer," wants to buy a Super Soft Vanilla. It's her favourite ice cream product, one she's accustomed to finding at Smile Factory, the local 24-hour convenience store. When Ms. Mizatani, an anxious young stage actor who's taken a part-time job at Smile Factory, tries to check-out the ice cream, the computer refuses to scan the item's barcode. Toshiki Okada's 2014 stage play enjoyed its Beirut premiere this weekend with a pair of performances by the Chelfitsch Theater Company.As the play opens, Usami and Ingarashi – the two mainstays of Smile Factory – discuss the various absurdities of the 24-hour convenience store.One reason for this is that the characters' retail-inflected monologues and dialogues are uttered while performing a spastic, often highly energetic, choreography that's become Okada's trademark.The existentialist inflection of Okada's chatty dialogue, and the playwright's concern with his performers' movement, is reminiscent of early Beckett, though the energetic goofiness of his formal experimentation suggests an aesthetic closer to that of South Park.None of Okada's characters mention any of these events during the play, however.
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