Walls Grow Thin
Total Rating: 
October 13, 2017
November 19, 2017
Los Angeles
East West Players / Rogue Artists Ensemble
Theater Type: 
Mori Stage Company
Theater Address: 
1919 Third Avenue
Running Time: 
75 min
Immersive Theater
Lisa Dring & Chelsea Sutton
Sean T. Cawelti

There’s good news and bad news about Kaidan Project, the site-specific extravaganza now premiering at Mori Storage Company in mid-city L.A. Built in 1927, the six-story structure has been turned into the setting for the retelling of an ancient Japanese ghost story. Two theater companies have collaborated on this unusual and highly imaginative project: the Asian-American East/West Players and the puppeteering Rogue Artists Ensemble, backed up by a slew of grants from various foundations and charities.

Mystery is the order of the day here: audience members aren’t told of the exact location of the warehouse until after they have purchased their tickets, and when they arrive they are broken down into units of twelve. Then they ride up together in an old freight elevator and enter the strange, dark world of the play. Voices and screams are heard, lights flicker and fade, masked characters enter and exit, eerie music underlines the action.

The costumes and the décor — kitchens and bedrooms, deep wells, clots of blood and hair, cobwebs, shadow puppetry—are the strongest things about this complicated, multi-sensory production. The experience of being led from one room to another by a ghost-like figure in Oriental garb who occasionally taps you on the shoulder and whispers instructions also enhances the mood of the piece. What disappoints, though, is the actual story you are asked to follow, which involves a young woman who is tormented by a mysterious event in her past. She sobs and howls in pain and agony, grapples with the monstrous figure of one of her demons, cries out for help and understanding, then flees in terror. It’s a one-note characterization that unfortunately becomes repetitive and off-putting. Things aren’t helped either by the many bizarre turns in the narrative, such as the sudden introduction of a surrealistic car commercial being shot in a modern TV studio by a bunch of ghoulish-looking singers and dancers.>

Music: Adrien Prevost; Set: Keith Mitchell and Dillon Nelson; Lighting : Karyn D. Lawrence; Costumes: Lori Meeker; Video: Matthew Hills; Sound: Steve Swift and Gilly Moon
Willard Manus
Date Reviewed: 
November 2017