Regional Reviews: Los Angeles
Kaidan Project: Walls Grow ThinEast West Players / Rogue Artists Ensemble
We've been invited, a group of twelve, to a secret location at a mid-city warehouse. We're here to search for the missing owner of said warehouse, Kana (Randi Tahara in the performance reviewed), who has mysteriously disappeared. Her voice, however, can be heard through the walls, particularly when the electricity falters. A warehouse employee (Amir Levi) takes us into Kana's old office, explaining what clues have been left behind. He has to leave to deal with something ... and then things get strange.
In one dark chamber after another, we're told stories about different people, from the blind musician beset by demons to the charming axe murderer Seikichi (Tom Dang) inviting us to have tea. Basket-headed monks welcome us to a boulevard of tales, from an audio experience of a story set on a train to a quietly tragic tour of a haunted young girl's childhood room. A commercial director poisons an actress with the taste of revenge, and finally we find out what's going on with Kana and why she's on the run.
Tahara does her best and generally succeeds with a role that essentially consists of leading the group from place to place and acting scared, which can't be easy. Levi gets a lot of humor from his tetchy employee, while Dang exudes a cool creepiness as an affable villain. Sean T. Cawelti's direction manages to pull together a number of technical and artistic talents to create an impressively detailed experience, from Karyn Lawrence's vivid lighting to Adrien Prévost's fine music. Lisa Dring and Chelsea Sutton's writing honors the classic Japanese tales, while Keith Mitchell and Dillon Nelson's scenic design creates a beautiful and macabre world.
While I happily recommend this show, it should be noted for mobility-impaired audience members that it requires a bit more than an hour of walking, and occasional seating in slightly uncomfortable situations. There's also one steep staircase to traverse. But for those who are looking for an original take on a haunted house, this show is a fun alternative.
Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin plays at a secret location in mid-city Los Angeles (ticket buyers will receive address) through November 5, 2017. Tickets and info are available at www.rogueartists.org.
Written by Lisa Dring and Chelsea Sutton. Directed by Sean T. Cawelti. Lighting Designer, Karyn Lawrence; Scenic Designers, Keith Mitchell and Dillon Nelson; Costume Designer, Lori Meeker; Sound Designers, Steve Swift and Gilly Moon; Music Composed by Adrien Prévost