Harajuku Girls

a play by Francis Turnly

Directed by Jude Christian
The world premiere Finborough Theatre 118 Finborough Road London SW10 9ED 24th Feb - 21st Mar 2015
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About the play


“I don’t know a girl who hasn’t been groped on a train. There’s always someone trying to cop a feel. Might as well get paid for it.”

On Jingu Bridge in Tokyo, teenage girls dress in cosplay outfits for fun, fashion, and the fantasy of being someone else, but for Mari, Keiko and Yumi, their schooldays are over…

In a race to escape from overbearing parents, stifling dead-end jobs and economic deprivation, they find their way to Kabukicho, a district of panty shops, love hotels and image clubs, where every aspect of the body and soul can be bought and sold. Only they can decide how far they’re willing to go.

As the three young women grow up and apart, they tread a dangerously fine line between empowerment and victimhood as they struggle to pursue their dreams, despite the obstacles that society and tradition put in their way.

A play about friendship, fantasy, and what it means to be free.

Jude Christian –the 2013 winner of the National Theatre Studio Bursary for Emerging Directors – directs the world premiere of this provocative new play by award-winning playwright Francis Turnly which takes us deep into the neon-lit streets and forbidden passageways of Tokyo.

Presented by Nicholas Goh, Papergang Theatre and China Dolls Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.

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  • unnamed

    Haruka Abe | Mari

    Trained at Rose Bruford College, graduating with First Class Honours.

    Theatre includes Double Negative (Camden People’s Theatre) and Pandora’s Body (Battersea Arts Centre).

    Film includes title roles in Yuki (Winner of Best Actress at YF International Film Festival) and Stanley Pickle (Winner of Best UK Short at Raindance Film Festival and thirty-two other awards internationally), About Time (directed by Richard Curtis), Merica Adams, The Substitute, 47 Ronin, The Knife That Killed Me, Scopia, Choose, Precision, Bleach and Slingers.

    Television includes Cucumber, Cyberbully (Channel 4), Ideal, Doctors, Casualty, The Things I Haven’t Told You, Edge of Heaven, My Phone Genie, Wire in the Blood and I Live with Models.

    Music Video includes the title role in ‘Rather Be’ by Clean Bandit.

  • Elizabeth Tan

    Elizabeth Tan | Keiko

    Trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, Australia.

    Theatre includes A Dream of Red Pavilions (Bush Theatre), This Isn’t Romance (Soho Theatre and Winner of the Verity Bargate Award), a rehearsed reading of The Evolution of God (LoNyLa, a transatlantic arts collective), Burning Maps (Outside Edge Theatre), Road to Kowloon Park (The Warehouse Theatre, Croydon), The Crucible and Much Ado About Nothing (Waverley Theatre).

    Film includes the lead role in Blink, Luck, Swinging with the Finkels, Masterwork, Love Aaj Kal, Dirty Sanchez: The Movie and Witch House.

    Television includes Waterloo Road, The Syndicate, Dr Who, Spooks, Hustle, Casualty, Coronation Street, Way to Go, New Tricks, Spirit Warriors, Hallo Panda and Hotel Babylon.

    Radio includes Crimson China and This Isn’t Romance (Winner of the Verity Bargate Award).

  • kunjue final 2

    Kunjue Li | Yumi, Fumiko

    Trained at Drama Studio London.

    Theatre includes Top Girls (Tristan Bates Theatre) and Popcorn (Criterion Theatre).

    Film includes lead roles in One, Night Bus, Tenants, City of Love and C’est La Vie, Razors, All That Remains, The Receptionist and Second Son.

    Television includes the lead role in Ciao Britain, Peaky Blinders, One Child and Ripper Street.

    Kunjue was awarded Best Leading Actress at the London Chinese Film Festival 2014.


  • unnamed (1)

    Nomo Gakuji | Mr Okada, Mr Chiba

    Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art on the MA Theatre Lab.

    Theatre includes Siamese Twins (King’s College London), To Dear Yasushi (Theatre 711, Tokyo and Japanese Tour), Who Am I? (Rakuen, Tokyo and Japanese Tour, and Winner of the Grand Prize at Roxodonta Theatre Festival, Osaka) and The Winds of God (New National Theatre, Tokyo and Japanese Tour).

    Film includes The Front and the Back, All That Remains, Ninkyo Helper, Rinjyo, Once in a Blue Moon and The Last Message.

    Television includes Sokowo Nantoka (That Is Kind Of…), Last Doctor and Funny Detective.

  • unnamed

    Sadao Ueda | Panty Shop Owner, Mr Narita, Mr Nakamura

    Trained at the Academy of Creative Training, Brighton.

    Theatre includes Privates on Parade (Noel Coward Theatre), Red Oleander, The Flies (Camden People’s Theatre) and Twin Stars (The Unicorn Theatre).

    Film includes London Has Fallen, What We Did on Our Holiday, Super Bob, Gambit, Speed Racer and Ambleton Delight.

    Television includes I Live with Models and the second series of Vicious.

    Radio includes Railway Man, Global Reach and After the Quake.

  • unnamed (2)

    Meg Kubota | Mrs Okada

    Trained at Arts Educational Schools.

    Theatre includes the title role in Hanjo (Ovalhouse Theatre), Festival For the Fish (Wimbledon Theatre), Story Project 3, Who Do We Think We Are (Southwark Playhouse) and a rehearsed reading of Liquid (Paines Plough).

    Film includes Iris (directed by Richard Eyre), the lead role in The Girl in a Bubble, Next Tuesday, All That Remains, The Followed, Fogbound, Cold Heaven and Flush.

    Television includes Mr Bean, Chuggington and The Day of the Kamikaze.

    Radio includes lead roles in A Pale View of the Hills and Fewer Not Less, The Great Bell, Cherry Women, Cherry Men, Wheeling Them In and Gyokusai: The Breaking Jewel.

    Meg has also provided voice overs for video games, audio books and commercials.



Director Jude Christian was the 2013 winner of the National Theatre Studio Bursary for Emerging Directors. Direction includes How Do You Eat An Elephant? (National Youth Theatre of Wales), I’d Rather Goya Robbed Me Of My Sleep Than Some Other Arsehole (Gate Theatre, London, and Boom Arts, Portland), Happy and The Mushroom (Pentabus Young Writers Festival), ©alculated to Death (Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival, London, and Future Shorts, Tokyo), My Romantic History (English Theatre, Berlin) and Sonata Movements (RADA). She studied directing at RADA, and is Artistic Director of Concert Theatre, an Associate Artist of Diverse City and the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, and a Creative Associate at the Gate Theatre.

Irish-Japanese playwright Francis Turnly has just won a Channel 4 Playwrights Scheme bursary to be Playwright in Residence at the Tricycle Theatre. His previous plays include Hiding (Watford Palace Theatre), Descent (Jackson’s Lane) and Bogland (Irish tour). He has written several plays for BBC Radio 4 including Pressing The Flesh, Shelter, Lullaby, Brought to Light, Homestead and Point of Departure – as well as the original Irish detective drama, Hinterland. Francis was a member of the Royal Court Theatre’s Studio, Unheard Voices and ‘the 50’ writers’ groups.


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