A former warehouse space in George Town, Penang is set to host the Noh-inspired theatre play The Italian Restaurant. The play, a Japanese and Malaysian collaboration, is part of the George Town Festival.

It was written by Naohiko Umewaka, a grand master of the Japanese traditional Noh theatre. He continues to perform Noh at the highest level, in addition to writing and directing new plays and conducting academic research on the art.

In the Penang premiere of The Italian Restaurant, choreographer Aida Redza will present the work alongside an eye-catching local cast, which includes Chee Sek Thim, Hardy Shafii, Mislina Mustaffa, Marina Tan. Sharifah Aryana and Siew Yong Koay.

“Naohiki has worked hard to make Noh theatre accessible outside Japan. This particular work, I admit, might not be so straightforward for the viewers, but it is a relatable story,” says Aida.

The show’s script, contemporary in nature, emerges from a chance meeting of a woman and a man in a restaurant.

“The place catches fire and is burnt to the ground. Out come the ghosts and spirits to play. Things can get frantic amid the tranquil momentum,” she adds.

The play, driven by music, also makes use of symbolism and metaphors – using the golden Noh mask yakan.

The Italian Restaurant, which plays at Loft 29 in George Town on Aug 26 and 27, is presented by Ombak-Ombak ArtStudio and ZXC Theatre Troupe, in association with TradeWinds Arts Exchange. For more information, head to airasiaredtix.com.