Hokey, High Camp 'Rocky Horror' to Breeze ThroughDaehangno, a street in Jongno district, Seoul, has a nightlife that attracts young people. The street, with its numerous small theaters and performance halls, is also well known as a national cultural Mecca. This summer, many of the theaters at Daehangno are staging horror performances that are scary enough to add a chill to the sultry summer weather.
Horror films, plays and musicals are especially popular this season because the truly terrifying is in fact believed to have a cooling effect upon audiences who are weary from the wilting heat. In Korea, there is a word commonly used to describe such an effect: napryang.
The word literally means to make a cool breeze to avoid the hot summer weather, and often describes the effect effect of a scary show on a summer day. Another reason for the shows' popularity is the popular trend for yeopgi, meaning the bizarre, still strong ever since its advent last year. Performances with bizarre or grotesque content satisfy this desire for yeopgi.
Soon to join the frightening performances at Daehangno is "The Rocky Horror Show," a musical considered a classic satire of the horror genre. The musical premiered at a shabby London theater with only 60 seats in 1973, and rapidly became an international cult favorite.
It was rated the "Best Musical of 1973" by the London Evening Standard's annual poll of drama critics. The musical was also made into a film, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," directed by Jim Sharman, which has also been an enduring success. The movie was released in Korea three years ago, naturally in the summer.
The musical version will be now be performed by Korean actors and restaged at Polymedia Theater in Daehangno from July 26 through Aug. 26.
Lee Ji-na, producer of the Korean adaptation, believes that "The Rocky Horror Show" has remained a favorite for long because the work resonates with the younger generations' desire to escape from traditional morals.
"What is so fascinating about this work is that it gives young people, who seem allergic to anything serious, a chance to get away for an hour and a half," Ms. Lee said.
The Korean version, recreated almost 30 years after the original premiered, is faithful to the original production.
A loving couple, Brad Majors and his fiancee, Janet Weiss, set off on a trip to look for their teacher. On the way, they take shelter in a huge castle to escape a heavy rainfall. Inside the castle, a variety of strange happenings unfold as they meet Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a "transvestite from the planet Transsexual."
The musical relates a number of bizarre incidents related to drugs, violence, and bisexuality within the castle walls. With its outlandish costumes and blaring soundtrack of 1970s British rock 'n' roll, the work is creatively wacky.
This one-of-a-kind musical will be a success only if the audience is able to read between the lines to understand the intended mockery of an older generation's hypocrisy.
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by Jung Jae-wal