The reviews are in for “after the quake”

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The cast of “after the quake”

Photo by Dan Norman

Walking Shadow Theatre Company presents “after the quake” based on the novel by Haruki Murakami. The play runs through May 21 at the People’s Center Theater in Minneapolis.

Thinking about seeing the show? Check out these excerpts of local reviews; click on the critic’s name to read the full review.

As Japan grapples with the results of the recent earthquake, tsunami and meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, the play seems fresh. But this show was adapted by Frank Galati from Murakami’s stories in response to an earlier tremblor — the Kobe earthquake of 1995.

Directed simply and effectively by Amy Rummenie for Walking Shadow Company, “Quake” interweaves two stories — the fanciful “Superfrog saves Tokyo” and regret-filled “Honey Pie.” In the first, a frog appears to a midlevel banker named Katigiri (Kurt Kwan), teaming up with him to do battle with underground forces and prevent an earthquake.

The other narrative revolves around three college friends. Jock Takasuki (Kwan) hooks up with Sayoko (Katie Bradley) and has a child with her even though it is the shy writer Junpei (Eric Sharp) who truly loves her.

– Rohan Preston, Star Tribune

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Brant Miller and Kurt Kwan in “after the quake.”

Photo by Dan Norman

The three actors at the center carry most of the story’s weight, and they do it very well. Eric Sharp as Junpei walks a tightrope, making the character very likeable (he’s kind, considerate, and quick to tell a story) but with heavy-duty flaws. Junpei keeps his desires hidden through the first half of the play, letting the story unfold to identify what’s eating at his soul.

Kurt Kwan gets handed two rather different roles to play, the well-meaning but something-of-a-jerk Takatsuki and the lonely but tough Katagiri, who collects on bad loans given to gangsters and other folks of ill repute. It’s not just that Kwan manages to create two distinct characters, he is also able to find connections between the two in his performance, and connections to Sharp and Junpei.

The final side of the triangle is Katie Bradley as Sayoko. Her performance is as reserved as the rest, but Bradley makes the character a warm charmer, so it’s clear why both men would fall in love with her.

– Ed Huyck, City Pages

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Katie Bradley, Eric Sharp, Cory Grossman

Photo by Dan Norman

This is rich, subtle material, its romantic sweetness nicely balanced by its deadly serious intention. The play (which runs for an intermissionless ninety minutes) uses long sections of the Murakami text in Book-It style narration: characters frequently turn and address the audience directly. The formality of this is perfect; it’s not just a love story (“Honey Pie”) or a dream-like melodrama (“Superfrog”). There is something else going on, something mysterious, and it keeps us riveted. The payoff, which I will refrain from describing, thrills.

…That this play goes up so soon after Japan’s recent quake/tsunami has given the production an unwelcome resonance. Walking Shadow handles this well: some visual material has been eliminated and the producers are properly aware of and respectful to Japan’s current suffering. Don’t let this keep you away.

– John Olive, HowWasTheShow.com

Did you see “after the quake?” If so, what did you think?

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