Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Visually Beautiful Korean Love Story

Mong-Yeon (A Love in Dream)

Modl Theatre , C Venue, Edinburgh and Borough Theatre, Abergavenny , August 30, 2009
Mong-Yeon (A Love in Dream) by Modl Theatre Modl Theatre Company has had a big hit with this production back home in Korea. The ensemble of thirteen blends music, dance and dramatic narrative in a seamless flow. The musicians move back and forth from their seated positions to take part in the action as required. The keyboard player has a face of delicate porcelain. There is the unfamiliarity enough of an Asian culture to engage and visual beauty enough to entrance.

The plot is the pursuit of a dead husband. At times explanatory pieces of English are put in to aid narrative understanding. But these additions, spoken in an almost childlike manner, are not really necessary. The cast do wonderful things with a couple of giant backcloths. At one point the lead sings amidst a piece of florally decorated cloth that billows all around her in the wind. A traditional Korean wedding is presented, followed by a wedding night of exquisite grace.

The overall colour motif is white although a vivacious red rooster invades one scene to great comedic effect. The production is suffused with a warmth throughout and the audience responded fittingly with a mighty noise of approval.

The company’s Scottish venue was high up in a building dimly lit at night and scruffy in appearance. The company had decorated the public space outside their performance area with a dozen bunches of flowers; that one cultural gesture set them apart from the hundreds of other companies competing for attention.

Asia has been less badly hit by the economic slump. Nonetheless, it still takes some effort to get an ensemble this size halfway around the world. All credit then to Lee Seung-Woo for getting “Mong Yeon” here; it gave me delight, even if capturing its qualities adequately in writing eludes me.

By the strange serendipities of touring Modl Theatre’s visit takes in the Edinburgh Festival and Abergavenny's Borough Theatre Saturday 5th September. Anyone with an interest in physical theatre, world theatre, or just plain theatre, will find a visit well worth their while.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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