Friday, April 24, 2009

"The Angel and The Woodcutter" - April 2009

Korean company Cho-In Theatre bring "The Angel and The Woodcutter" to The Tron. Starting off with its roots in a gentle folk tale, a woodcutter and his mother are living in harsh surroundings, but with obvious affection for each other. On spying an angel bathing, the woodcutter is smitten by her beauty and his devoted mother steals her wings and forces her to become his bride. Left there it would be a charming story, but it darkens into an brief history of Korea which disturbs and captivates.

Told mostly non-verbally by weaving together movement, expressions, music and sound; this is an incredibly physical piece which is beautifully executed. The interactions between the mother and her son, and the mother and the angel are particularly well done and are comedy of the highest order. The battle between the two women as they try to set the groundrules of their own relationship and stake their claims to the affection of the man they both love is wonderful theatre.

Abruptly and jarringly Korea's recent history intrudes on this gentle tale. The angel and the mother are left to fend for themselves after the woodcutter is conscripted into the army and is brainwashed into becoming the perfect soldier. We continue down this dark road and by the end you feel as drained emotionally as the perfomers must be physically. It is quite startling as to how complex a story can be portrayed without words.

At almost 90 minutes straight through it does struggle to maintain its intensity at times, but its strengths more than make up for that. One word of warning - although a lot of the publicity of the show mentions its use of puppets, that does not make it a children's show. A lot of the themes explored are very dark and adult, which could make for uncomfortable explanations.

"The Angel and The Woodcutter" continues at The Tron until Sunday 26th April.

Photo used with permission.

1 Heckle

Statler said...

While pushing the boundaries of my tolerance for dance/physical theatre, even I could appreciate the quality of this production. It's a horrific tale but is beautifully told.