[ON STAGE]Revelations of a Scrub BrushNothing is so powerful as a mother's love. But can that love go too far? Can that love lead to unhappiness?
This is the subject of "Geu Yeojaeui Jageun Haengbokron" ("The Simple Happiness of the Woman") being put on at Sanulim Theater, near Sinchon and Hongik University. The theater is small, with only 100 or so seats, and the crowd on most nights is typically women in their 40s and 50s.
The minimalist production begins with a woman's funeral. Her son narrates the story of his mother and her families to the audience.
Son Suk plays Yun Jeong-suk, twice a widow with a son and a daughter who don't like each other. She asks the audience, "What have I done wrong?" Yun had first married a widower who already had one son. Her second marriage was to a bachelor, and with him she gave birth to a daughter. Both husbands left Yun with nothing but the two children.
Yun works hard as a salesperson at an insurance company and although she is a single mother, she earns enough to put both her children through university. She enjoys her work, loves her son, Jong-gyu, and her daughter, Yun-mi. But the kids complain about their mother and her strange ways.
Jong-gyu is always uncomfortable with his stepmother's excessive love. His biggest complaint? Until he was 15, his mother always scrubbed his back while he was taking a shower. He even enlists in his military service in order to escape from her obsessive ways.
Yun-mi, on the other hand, does not like her mother's scrubbing of her brother's back, and criticizes Yun all the time.
All of this leads the mother to lament, "I lost two husbands and receive nothing from my kids. They only blame me. What is happiness for a family?" Such comments likely explain why the audience has been approximately 90 percent female.
These anxieties lead Yun to insomnia and drink. She consults a psychiatrist who diagnoses the root of her insomnia as frustration at not being able to scrub her son's back anymore.
Washing Jong-gyu's back is more than just Freudian psychology; it is a symbol for family stability.
Son Suk's portrayal is deeply touching. It is a powerful performance of a woman who has lost much but in the end regains it before taking her own life.
by Kong Seo-hee