“I think I just felt my crown chakra open,” my friend mused at intermission. A fan dancer in a white kimono had hypnotically moved across the stage to background narration of a rather graphic sexual nature. It was a fitting reaction to the crazy surrealism inherent in a Haruki Murakami novel. Entering his world through reading is intense enough, but as an audience member at a theatrical adaptation, prepare not so much to watch as to swim. Talking cats, walking brands, mass hallucinations – Kafka on the Shore is a risky choice for any theater company to tackle. Spooky Action Theater has just debuted the second professional production of Frank Galati’s adaptation of Murakami’s riddle-infused book, and the company’s ambitious choice is certainly to be admired.
Teenager Kafka Temura (Michael Wong) is on the run. Is he just another misfit or is there something more sinister in his past? Mr. Nakata (Al Twanmo) is on the hunt – for the kidnapper and murderer of local cats. Though touched in the head, he’s the perfect detective for the job, as the cats actually talk to him. Caught up in Nakata’s quest is truck driver Hoshino (an engaging Steve Lee), while (overly) helpful Sakura (Jennifer Knight) and enigmatic librarian Oshima (Tuyet Thi Pham) assist Kafka, as his crush on Miss Saeki (MiRan Powell) delves into the more darkly elemental realms of the psyche.
These twisting plot lines operate almost as alternate time waves, and you should be prepared to meander along with them without quite making sense of it all. Our wry spirit animal, Crow (a mesmerizing Dane Figueroa Edidi), bridges the worlds of theater and audience, adding to the breaking of realities. It all might be the melding of an Oedipal hero’s quest and descent into the Underworld, saturated with the gradual stages of initiation into the sexual mysteries – but there’s no need to crack that metaphorical code. Just let it work its quirky spell. Continue reading