[ON STAGE]Where Art Thou? Wed, Wary

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[ON STAGE]Where Art Thou? Wed, Wary

One of the most popular love stories in Korea is the "Romeo and Juliet"-like tale "Chunhyang," in which a governor's son, Mongryong, falls in love with the beautiful daughter of a lower-class family. Of course, love wins out in the end. But what comes after? What happens to Chunhyang and Mongryong in the future?

"Amhaengeosa, Joldoya" (or "Freaked Out") attempts to tackle those questions. In the style of a madangnori, a traditional kind of play, full of singing and dancing and staged on a courtyard, "Joldoya" flashes forward 15 years. Chunhyang is no longer in the bloom of youth, but is now a mature and sly 31-year- old, ready to do anything, from committing fraud to flirting excessively, for the sake of her husband's political career. She is played by the notable Oh Joung-hea, the lead actress in the director Im Kwon-taek's "Seopyeonje."

The play opens festively, with a fusion of traditional percussion and rock music. Each character is introduced by a narrator and a jester. When the actors and actresses invite the audience to make an offering to the spirits for the night's performance, a Buddhist monk from the audience is glad to step up and put in some money into the mouth of a pig head. The actors even suggest getting everyone in the front and back seats to say "hello" to each other. This is what the madangnori is all about - having fun and interacting with people's lives.

Worried about her husband, whom she still believes to be the most handsome and capable man in the land, Chunhyang makes a visit to a female shaman for advice. Upon learning that his slow promotion is due to her ignoble heritage, Chunhyang follows the shaman's prophecy and urges Mongryong to run for the coming elections. In order to get enough campaign funds, however, she must join in the political activities, even trying her feet at ballroom dancing. The white mink coat she puts over her traditional hanbok shows that how much Chunhyang has changed.

Mongryong, indecisive as he is, follows his wife's orders and does everything legal and illegal that might help him with the election for governor.

The scenes are heavy on satire, which is often aimed at current political happenings. As such, fistfights turn into alliances at a moment's notice. The scenes are sometimes painfully recognizable.

All in all, "Joldoya" is an imaginative continuation of a classic story.



by Rhee Hyun-ju

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