By counterpointing the gassy comedy of kyogen with noh’s abstract symbols, Japanese theater keeps body and soul together. The effect is rather like a poet ending his song — then slipping on a banana skin. Correspondingly, when performed separately it isn’t half as funny.

Still, while the kyogen program given at the National Noh Theater in Sendagaya last Friday didn’t much amuse, it did highlight shades of subtlety which are often lost in relief, after the fidgety enjoyment of noh.

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