The live-action stage show Kaan, at Pattaya’s D-Luck Cinematic Theatre, gives literary legends a high-tech jumpstart
Unless you happen to be well versed in Thai legends and folklore you won’t recognize the various tales that are brought to life by Kaan, a live-action theatrical production inspired by classic Thai literature. However, that’s not to say this 75-minute high-tech stage show isn’t worth watching. In fact, in terms of pure performance it’s an absolutely thrilling spectacle, and working out who’s the hero and who’s the bad guy is pretty straightforward throughout. It’s also a show without any real dialogue—as the performers rely on broad gestures, pantomime, and plenty of yelling to get their messages across—so language is no barrier to understanding either.
The story begins in a library, where a young man named Kaan—who doesn’t have much interest in reading—is handed a book with his name on it and is instructed by the librarian to read it. When he opens the book he is magically warped into the narrative, along with his sidekick Gabilpuksa, a cute and comical flying monkey character. In their quest to find all the broken pieces of a magical key, which will allow Kaan to return to the mortal world, the pair embark on a fantastical adventure where the heroes and villains of ancient Thai literature come to life.
What follows is an eye-popping series of choreographed battles, chase scenes, and acrobatic sequences that are enhanced by state-of-the-art projection mapping—which creates some incredibly realistic backgrounds, foregrounds, and a few fierce sea monsters that tower over the characters on stage. But the three-dimensional visuals are just as awe-inspiring, and include giant animatronic robots, life-size moving pirate ships, electrifying Tesla coils, real-life dancing elephants, aerial silk acrobats, and oversized creatures that descend from above and swoop out over the audience.
In all there are six Thai folktales featured in Kaan: Phra Aphai Mani (The Wrath of the Sea Giantess); Phra Suthorn-Manorah (The Colors of Himmavanta); Manimekhala-Ramasura (The Chase of Lightning); Sangthong (The Wager for the Ivory Kingdom); Kraithong (The Underwater Abyss); and Ramakien (The Cataclysm). The talented cast consists of 90 performers, but another 200 skilled stage personnel are required to bring this entertaining epic to life every evening. The show itself reportedly took three years to put together, including the construction of the 1,000 sq.m Singha D’Luck Cinematic Theatre—a 1,400 seat venue, located on Thepprasit Road in Pattaya, which was specially designed to house this elaborate, one-of-a-kind stage extravaganza.
Visionary Producer and Artistic Director Yongyoot Thongkongtoon said that his idea was to create something that would proudly showcase Thai culture and national heritage, while at the same time appealing to both national and international audiences. And while I can’t say that my knowledge of classic Thai literature has made any dramatic increase after seeing the show, I can say that I was thoroughly impressed by the incredibly imaginative visuals and the perfectly executed performances.
Kaan is performed every day except Monday, with shows at 5pm, and 8:30pm. Ticket prices start at B2,500 (B2,000 for children).
By Bruce Scott