Photo: Richard Termine
There are some beautiful things here. The glittering chains are magical. There are moments in which the cloth panels ease into elegant, graceful shapes in a sort of origami-in-motion. The music, composed by Jane Wang and played by her on double bass, toy piano, and various stainless steel instruments of her own invention, provides a fluid, remarkable soundscape.
Strange Tales of Liaozhai represents such thoughtfulness, talent, and hard work that I really wanted to love it, or even like it. But the sad truth is that I spent much of the time bored. (Many people in the audience clearly enjoyed the show much more than I did.) Everything moves very slowly--even more slowly, I think, than is necessitated by the physical requirements of the projections and puppetry. Neither story is particularly compelling, and while many of the visuals are impressive, they aren't emotionally engaging. I will gladly stipulate that Strange Tales of Liaozhai is an impressive work of art, but I just didn't care.
(Second row center, press ticket.)