Thursday, 9 September 2010

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ****

 A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Adapted from by William Shakespeare, by Yohangza Theatre Company, South Korea
Playhouse, Arts Centre, Melbourne, until Sept 1, 2010
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

This Korean adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream captures the playfulness and mischief of Shakespeare’s original comedy but director, Yang Jung-Ung, injects it with an idiosyncratic Asian style. It effectively incorporates contemporary and traditional Korean and European theatrical, clown and dance conventions.

This is an intensely physical performance that echoes the Chinese Opera, Japanese Kabuki theatre and even some of the magical, martial arts films. The movement is stylised and often acrobatic, with broadly comical acting, clown-like characters and make-up, vivid costumes and a sparsely decorated stage.

Shakespeare’s play is adapted into a Korean folk tale about mythical fairies (Dokkebi) and four young lovers who are victims of the fairies’ mischief in the forest. Shakespeare’s language is translated loosely into Korean (surtitled) and the actors employ a heightened, musical style of vocalisation.

Yang Jung-Ung’s (OK) production and multi-skilled cast are laugh-out-loud funny. The audience clapped and cheered the Duduri, acrobatic and impish clown twins (Jung Woo-Keun, Kim Sang-Bo [OK]) based on Shakespeare’s Puck. Kim Jun-Ho (OK) is a deliciously wicked, sensual Fairy King with Kim Ji-Youn (OK) as his sassy and powerful Fairy Queen.

The four lovers (Kim Jin-Gon, Chang Hyun-Seok, Lee Eun-Jeong, Jeong Su-Yeon [OK]) use language and movement to create a complex, comic but symbolic emotional landscape and Jeong A-Young (OK) is feisty as the nuggety, old woman, Ajumi.

This is a cheerful, naughty interpretation of Shakespeare that leaves the audience smiling. Even their curtain call is memorable.

By Kate Herbert

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