After the premiere of "Mercury Fur" at Theatre Tram in Tokyo's lively Sangenjaya district this month, Issey Takahashi, who stars in that dystopian 2005 play by Philip Ridley, declared: "I think this is a very dark prophecy, but as I was acting my character Elliot today, I also felt it's a story of hope — or perhaps I should say that, as actors, we should make it a hopeful story."

Nevertheless, if you were just to read this fifth adult play by the 50-year-old English multimedia artist, author, film director and visual artist who also writes plays for children, you might well be baffled by Takahashi's sentiment.

In fact, Ridley's regular publisher actually refused to handle this work, which caused widespread outrage and heated debate over its graphic portrayals of child sex abuse in a post-apocalyptic version of the East End of London, where Ridley has lived his whole life.