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Saturday, January 19, 2013


(Jemma Kahn)

Fantastic performance by an outstanding exponent of Kamishibai. (Review by Keith Millar)

Kamishibai is an ancient Japanese art of storytelling. Literally translated, it means paper theatre and involves beautifully painted boards which are revealed one after the other to illustrate the story which is been told.

Last night at the Musho! Festival at the Catalina Theatre, a full house was treated to a fantastic performance by an outstanding exponent of this art form. Jemma Kahn studied Kamishibai during a two-year stay in Japan, and has brought to our shores something which is fresh, new and very entertaining.

There were seven stories in all, which varied from philosophical and profane to hilarious and tragic – and there was even a bit of naughty pornography.

Firstly, we heard a tale of Buddha and a selfish businessman. This was followed the naughty encounter in a hotel room with Jemma providing all the sound effects (Phew!).

The title story, The Epicene Butcher, is a dark gothic tale, told in verse, of an expert butcher who travels the world to find the perfect cut of meat for his emperor.

Next there was a report on the dream life of cats, and this was followed by a moving and sad reflection on the devastation caused in Japan by the 2011 tsunami. The final two items are Mario’s’ Lament, based on the iconic Mario Brothers computer game, and a South African story about Nelson Mandela told in Japanese.

Jemma Kahn is a master storyteller. She has a beguiling stage presence and her delivery is confident and articulate. She is perfectly complimented by her sidekick, the Chalk Girl who is played by Klara Van Wyk. Klara’s main purpose in the production is to write captions and rude messages on a black board between the stories. She is excellent as the a sulky teenager who is forever chewing gum and is very bored with the proceedings.

The Epicene Butcher And Other Stories is produced by Daddy’s Little Secret, written by Gwydion Beynon and directed by John Trengrove.

The Musho! Festival runs until tomorrow (January 20) at Catalina Theatre on Wilson's Wharf in Durban. For more details visit or email For bookings, show times and details contact Catalina Theatre on 031 305 6889 or visit

Tickets for all shows R50 (R30 PANSA paid-members as well as OAPS, students and children under 12). Special all-day ticket on Saturday / Sunday - R100 per day. Twist / Fringe tickets - pay-what-you can. Children’s show R50 (R30 for children)

See the artSMart Events List for dates and times. – Keith Millar