Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Los Angeles

Kaidan Project: Walls Grow ThinEast West Players / Rogue Artists Ensemble
Review by Terry Morgan

Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin
Photo by Chelsea Sutton
High-end haunted houses seem to be more popular than ever these days. One can see the appeal—a bit more personal of a scare than simply watching a horror movie, a safe Halloween adventure. East West Players and Rogue Artists Ensemble have taken this trope and put their own unique spin on it with Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin, an interactive walk-through show filled with Japanese ghost stories. The results are spooky and memorable, if perhaps a bit more haunted house than traditional theatre.

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

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

Mori Storage Employee: Dawn Anderson
Naz/Monk : Yiouli Archontaki
Eyeman/Monk: Tyler Bremer
Seikichi: Tom Dang
Okiku/Emi: Lara Thomas Ducey
Monk: Eric Fagundes
Monk: Julia Garcia Combs
Monk: McCristol Harris III
Puppeteer/Oni: Heidi Hilliker
Kana: Tane Kawasaki
Mori Storage Employee: Steve Jun
Kana: Jolene Kim
Mori Storage Employee: Amir Levi
Aoyama: Thomas Isao Morinaka
Kana/Additional Vocals/Paranormal Consultant: Jasmine Orpilla
Mori Storage Employee: Ricky Pak
Oni/Puppeteer: Sarah Kay Peters
Male Swing: Jonathan Reich
Eyeman/Monk: Anthony Rutowicz
Kana: Randi Tahara
Hoichi: Paul Turbiak