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Japanese Title: Kuroi Kigeki: Tomodachi
English Title: Friends
Author: ABE, Kobo
Author's Profile: 1924-1993. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tokyo in 1948. He received the Postwar Literary Prize in 1950 for The Red Cocoon and the Akutagawa Literary Prize in 1951 for "The Wall." In 1955, three of his plays were produced: "Uniform," "Slave Hunting," and "Express Boat." In 1969, he produced his own play, "The Man Who Became a Stick." In 1973, he launched the Abe Kobo Studio and began rigorous experimental theatre activities, such as producing the performance piece, "Exhibition of Images." His major plays include "You Too are Guilty" (1965), "Friends" (1967), "Rose-tinted Glasses of Love" (1973), "Green Stockings" (1974; received the Drama Prize of the Yomiuri Literary Award). He received the prestigious Kishida Drama Prize in 1958 for "The Ghost is Here," the Yomiuri Literary Award in 1963 for "The Woman of the Dunes," and the Minister of Education Award in 1971 for the play, "Guide Book," and for the production of "Dolus Eventualis." He was also senior professor at Toho Gakuen Community College.
First Performance:   1967
Performance time:  
Acts / Scenes: 13 scenes
Cast: 14 (7 men, 7 women)

This is an absurdist play about strangers taking over a person's house and home.

At night in the city, a family of eight emerges from nowhere. It comprises the 80 year old grandmother, the gentlemanly looking father, the mother, the eldest son who used to be a private detective, the second son who used to be an amateur actor, the spinsterly eldest daughter, the pure and attractive second daughter, and the impish youngest daughter. Their mission is to find lonely residents in the city and offer friendship.

One night, this family visits a man in his apartment unit and finds an excuse to enter his rooms. The man angrily accuses them of illegal entry and calls the police. The two policemen who arrive and the landlord write him off as deluded and leave.
The family members prepare dinner, start fights, and gradually take over the household. The man suddenly realizes that the eldest brother has stolen his wallet, but the father rationalizes his son's actions as a means of managing the man's wealth. The family members continue their barrage of rationalization in every way possible; the man finally gives in and offers them his money and belongings in exchange for their departure.

Singing the "Broken Necklace" song, the family emphasizes the happiness of togetherness. However, the man persists in his desire to be alone. Furthermore, the man turns out to have a fiancee. She is becoming suspicious of the changes in him and visits his home to question him. But the family members get around her, too.
Persuaded by the eldest daughter, the man gives up trying to drive out the family and tries to escape instead. His attempt is discovered and he is shut up in a cage. Locked up, the man gradually loses interest in the outer world of work and in his fiancee. When he is about to get hold of the key to the cage from the second daughter, he dies from a moment of excessive joy. Saying, "If he had only not been so defiant, we would only have been good neighbors to him," the second daughter laments his death.
The family members gather together, march out of the apartment, and disappear into thin air.