The Scotsman

Dance, physical theatre & circus review: Yōkai

The Krumple blends visually striking, even bizarre, imagery with accomplished physical storytelling

KELLY APTER | Tuesday 23 August 2016

Funny, clever, surreal and visually striking, this imaginative new show from The Krumple is a gift that keeps on giving.

☆☆☆☆ 4/5 STARS

Just when you think you’ve got the measure of it, something else unexpected – often hilarious – happens.

Yōkai takes its name from supernatural spirits in Japanese folklore, and the sneaking, creeping forces that bring about the actions on stage certainly have an other-worldly feel to them. Not in a sinister or unnerving way, more a sense that the strange people in identical beige outfits hail from somewhere else, and they’ve turned up to mess with our heads.

The narrative itself breaks down into three main strands: a woman desperate to audition for The Voice meets a very different fate due to an icy road; a man goes fishing and finds himself on the wrong end of the rod; and a young girl desperately seeks her busy father’s attention on Christmas Eve.

Three separate families, living in a town formed out of tiny, beautifully crafted cardboard structures, their windows filled with light and the promise of a story unfolding inside. It could be anywhere, anytime. Because the central premise here – how people cope with the tragedies and chaos life drops in their lap – is universal and timeless.

The stories themselves are engaging, but it is the method in which they are told that gives Yōkai its gold star. The Krumple performers all met while training at École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, so physical storytelling runs through their veins.

Based in Paris and Oslo, the company was set up to create work that uses bodily and facial expression to communicate with an audience . Words are redundant in the face of such astute movement and razor-sharp timing.