Kwaidan at the New Diorama Theatre
Kwaidan at the New Diorama Theatre is part of the Suspense festival, which offers “puppetry for adults”. The show takes inspiration from Japanese ghost stories and horror movies, using life-size human puppets to create a perturbing piece of theatre.
Developed by Rogue28 Theatre and directed by Paul Piris, there are just two performers. Aya Nakamura and Mohsen Nouri create a strange world and blur the boundaries between past and present, real and imaginary, human and puppet. The set is a familiar domestic scene; the television flickers with white noise, reminiscent of The Ring, and the front row are practically part of the scenery.
The plot concerns a girl named Haru, and the series of strange things that begin to happen to her and around her, after she returns home. The audience spends at least 40 minutes of this hour-long show trying to work out the storyline. The disparate scenes lack a driving purpose or motivation, and often seem disconnected from one another. This has the presumably desired effect of wrong-footing the viewer and creating confusion and uneasiness, aided by a soundtrack of jarring, high-pitched piano notes and low drones. While the viewer’s disorientation is key to the physical experience of the play, at points the lack of dialogue can make it more of a challenge for members of the audience to suspend their disbelief and fully engage.
Light and shade are brought into the transition between scenes at a seedy brothel or nightclub, where the fat, sleazy sound of brass and the video of the club host’s one-sided spiel instantly transports viewers to an entirely different place. While Kwaidan might take too long to get out of the starting blocks, the technical skill of human-puppet interaction delivers an unsettling and unique theatrical experience.
Photo: Monika Kita
Kwaidan is on at the New Diorama Theatre from 5th until 7th November 2015, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Kwaidan here: