17 SE 8th
Portland, OR 97214




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The Black



The critically acclaimed production returns to open Imago's season.

playing Oct 5 until Nov 4 at Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th Avenue. 

Tickets are $15 to $30
Thursday - 7:30
FriDAY & SatURDAY - 8:00
SunDAY - 2:00


Jerry Mouawad Breaks His Silence. Imago to Stage the English World Premiere of Yukio Mishima's The Black Lizard


Contains Nudity. Recommended for Adults.



“superb…fast-paced, suspenseful …brilliant… sexy, surrealistic noir thriller…. perfectly captures the vitality, depravity and eroticism of Mishima’s intense vision…. the surreal quality of David Lynch .. Imago’s The Black Lizard is a rare gem that shines!”  Joshua Hunt, The Vanguard  

full review


"excellent… hilarious… uncanny poetic intensity… a precise clockwork of profane surprise"
Matthew Korfhage, Willamette Week

full review
engaging… mesmerizing….fabulous…  fun… close to perfect…theater that is invariably surprising.  Invariably, yes!" 
Barry Johnson, Oregon Public Broadcasting

full review

“another striking example of Imago’s creativity…a wonderfully strange hybrid, constantly blending -- or shifting between -- stylistic conventions… dancing between American psychological naturalism and Japanese Kabuki-inspired hyper-theatricality”Marty Hughley, The Oregonian

read the full review

"fantastic, thrilling, awesome, what a winner…absolutely kills!"

Barret Johnson, Broadway World

read the full review

"dazzling … brilliant….There’s the Portland theater scene. And there's Imago."
Brett Campbell, Oregon Arts Watch
full review


"delightful in its genre-mashing, multimedia ingenuity… intoxicating cocktail… gloriously creative".
Aaron Scott, Portland Monthly
full review





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Since 2009, Jerry Mouawad has staged five silent productions Apis, Cuban Missile Tango, Tick Tack Type, Stage Left Lost and Zugzwang. Now he is breaking his silence with the English Language World Premiere of one of Japan's most popular plays, Yukio Mishima's The Black Lizard.


The production contains nudity and is recommended for adults.


From 1950, until his dramatic suicide in 1970, while attempting to foment a right-wing coup d'etat, Yukio Mishima dominated Japanese letters—as novelist and playwright. Mishima was equally adept at writing psychological parlor-room drama and bombastic kabuki—filled with music, dance, and stage magic. The Black Lizard (1961) is a hybrid of these two styles. Black Lizard is the pseudonym of Japan's most notorious woman gang leader, and she specializes in jewelry theft and murder. These disparate crimes have one object—to fuel her obsession with obtaining and possessing the impossible—beauty that will never be lost or fade away.  The play takes the form of a battle of wits between Black Lizard and brilliant private detective, Kogorô Akechi, Japan's Sherlock Holmes. Black Lizard attempts to steal the biggest diamond in Japan, Akechi strives to protect the jewel and capture the criminal.  Until the end we don't know who will prevail.  The play has been a perennial favorite in Japan—many leading actresses and female impersonators have taken a turn at playing Black Lizard including Mizutani Yaeko, Miwa Akihiro (also in the film version), Bandô Tamasaburô, and Matsuzaka Keiko. 

The Black Lizard delves deeply into the psyche of the heroine, who embodies many of Mishima's own pathologies, but at the same time the play is a campy, sexy, and hilarious romp through Japan in the 1960s. Characters take on multiple identities and don disguises with a frequency seen only in kabuki, and settings range from posh hotel suites, to Tokyo Tower, to a ship at sea. As in kabuki, leading characters are given long monologues to reveal their innermost feelings, and in Jerry Mouawad's direction these are presented in "chamber" style with influences from Richard Foreman. Imago's The Black Lizard will be a verbally sophisticated, physically energetic, and visually sumptuous play—attempting to bring a contemporary fusion of kabuki and melodrama to Portland audiences.