TC Horror Fest Review: Kaidan

"Tormented wraiths haunt an eerie landscape best avoided by helpless mortals. Inspired by Lufcadio Hearn’s 19th century collection of Japanese ghost stories, Green T Productions uses a movement based performance style and live music to lend an unsettling creepiness to the tales in Kaidan: Stories and Studies of the Strange."

Kaidan: Stories and Studies of the Strange plucks three folk tales from one of Lafcadio Hearn's final collections and presents them together in a one hour play, on a living set made from a yūrei chorus.

Green T are known for their sets that literally come alive -- ok, not literally, but there are moments while watching when you literally forget that this isn't literally true -- and their grand, vivid productions. Kaidan is more of what they're known for, weaving the three stories together into a one hour show that isn't quite a play, is also not quite dance, neither is it pantomime, nor acrobatics, and certainly not any kind of musical; yet at any moment you could look and mistake it for any or all of these.

The three stories that make up Kaidan are:

Jikininki - "A wandering priest stumbles upon a hermitage and discovers a fellow priest under a horrid curse."

A priest (Natalie Rae Wass) finds shelter in a nearby village, where she is called upon to perform funeral rites for the recently deceased. Unfortunately, a corpse eating spirit comes in the night and devours the body, leaving Wass to seek out the mysterious spirit's origins, confront the dreaded jikininki, and free it from its curse.

Oshidori - "A hunter, tormented by an enormous spider, accidentally shoots a bird whose mate haunts the hunter with her profound loneliness."

Kaysone Syonesa plays Sonjô the Hunter in this adaptation. In the original, Sonjô killed one of a pair of oshidori out of hunger, and was then haunted by its mate. In this telling, the kill is made when the hunter's arrow misses its intended mark, instead impaling the hapless bird. This twist lends the death more impact and brings a far greater sense of tragedy to the story. And, even though it was just a puppet, the staged death of the oshidori drew a collective pained gasp from the audience.

Yuki Onna - "After losing his father to a Snow Demoness, a young woodcutter meets and marries a mysterious beauty. All is well, until it isn't."

Joann Oudekerk plays the Oyuki, a spirit who kills a mortal man but takes pity and spares another. She then promises that he'll keep his life, but only as long as he never tells anyone what he's seen. To keep tabs on him, she takes human form and stays close to his side, hoping the need to kill will never come again. This is one of the most widely adapted tales Hearn ever wrote down. It has made its way into dozens of animated series and feature films, progmetal lyrics, video games, and (if you're old) you probably saw it in a Tales From the Darkside story with Rae Dawn Chong and James Remar. While most of those adaptations took liberties, Green T's take remains truer to its source, and the interplay between Oudekerk, the young woodcutter (played by KiSeung Rhee) and the rest of the cast is a thrill to see.

Kaidan: Stories and Studies of the Strange continues at the Southern Theater, 1420 S Washington Ave, MPLS, as part of the Fourth Annual Twin Cities Horror Fest.

Purchase Tickets Online ($14-15)

Wed, Oct. 28 @ 8:30pm
Sun, Nov. 1 @ 5:30pm

[Images: Twin Cities Horror Festival]