Its name translates as Chocolatecake Theatre Company, but there's nothing self-indulgent about topics Gekidan Chocolatecake gets its teeth into.

For the last two years, the Tokyo-based troupe has won best-play awards from the cutting-edge CoRich Performing Arts theater-portal website. In 2012, that was for its Nazi-era double bill of "Nekkyo" ("Fanaticism") about the rise of Adolf Hitler and "Ano Kioku no Kiroku" ("Record of the Memory"), about survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Last year, it won with "Chiten no Kimi" ("Ruling Person"), a searching examination of the 1912-26 reign of Emperor Taisho, when militarists rose to power in Japan.

In contrast, when Chocolatecake was formed in 2000 by members of the drama circle at Komazawa University in Tokyo, its staple fare was comedic takes on young people's angsts. But that all changed eight years later — though not the name.