Behind The Mirror

Sat 5th – Fri 25th August 2017

reviews

Anna Ley

at 10:15 on 19th Aug 2017

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This beat- boxingly brilliant piece of theatre weaves wackiness with worthy acting and wonderful creativity. The multidimensional ‘Behind the Mirror’ turns the timeless tale of Princess Pyeonggang and General Ondal into a teenage story of selfhood for Peyeonggang’s maid, Yeoni, who yearns to be anyone but herself. Guided through a forest of feverishly flexible trees, Yeoni is taught to give up on the glass in front of her and give in to the girl within. A symphony of sound, stretching bodies and side-splitting comedy, Go Theatre Company’s ingenious piece is fantastic for all ages with its astounding acrobatics, exquisite musicality and some added silliness for the kids.

From wild Yaseng to womanly Yeoni, the vibrato of the cast melodiously navigating the tale and its characters makes this play touchingly unique. The perfect percussion to the play, ‘Behind the Mirror’s’ plot is supported by an accapella symphony of strong voices and subtle tones. Blurring the bounds of distinction as it does the bounds of the physical and musical, this self- conducting orchestra would be unidentifiable as a chorus of mere voices if you were to close your eyes.

Like the rolling rhythms of their voices, the setting is sculpted by the beautiful lines of the ensemble’s bodies, a series of cascading angles and arrangements. From the writhing apple tree baring a fruit, to the rippling waters of the lake, the backdrop to the tale is formed entirely by bodies and is still beautifully believable. The precision of the physicality is astounding, every finger on every hand by every performed unfolds with pure focus making it as aesthetically as it is audially pleasurable. The strings to the pupated performers, their bodies evolve with the chimes of their voices: hitting every note and intonation, amplifying the voices that simultaneously resound. A choral togetherness of bodies like the bound voices of a harmony, ‘Behind the Mirror’ is a seamless display of symmetrical shapes. As the settings fold into one another, the audience is guided through a forest of feeling, brought to life by captivating, charismatic cartoonish performers with charmily clumsy communications. The subtleties of the static posture, even when in the shadows, shows just how seamless this was, so polished it was perfectly executed by its cast.

As the subtitles instruct you, watching ‘Behind the Mirror’, ‘you will laugh’. Stretching the bounds of theatre as well as character, literally, this is a play about moving behind the mirror, beyond reflection and translating the invincibility within. Something that is masterfully mimicked in the seemingly invincible capabilities of the body that the performance boasts. A fusion of flexible bodies and flexible voices, it is a fantastically versatile and original play.

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Dan Mahoney

at 18:42 on 19th Aug 2017

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‘Behind the Mirror’ might just be the most charming thing you’ll see all year. Even speaking as a man with a desiccated apple core where his heart should be, the energy and warmth of this production is inescapable, and you’ll leave the theatre with a skip in your step and a feeling that maybe, just maybe, everything will be alright (although it probably won’t be).

Coming to us from Korean company Go Theatre, ‘Behind the Mirror’ is an acapella musical comedy which makes heavy use of physical theatre to retell a traditional Korean fairytale with real wit and verve. The story is filled with recognisable elements of folk storytelling; a mysterious forest, maids and princesses and bumbling enemies; which combine to create a timeless and universal story of the recognition of inner beauty and the importance of self belief. It all feels a bit like a classic Disney movie, albeit with a slightly anarchic edge and sharp wit. The songs successfully pinball between the beautiful (star Yoojung Kim in particular has a wonderful voice) and the humorous, utilising the range of acapella style marvellously.

The barebones nature of the staging of the production stands out from the beginning, with the stage completely empty. Without sound effects or a constructed set and using only limited props, the ensemble create their environments and ambience through physical theatre and voice to surprising and hilarious effect. Although the focus is on music and comedy, the company are all impressive physical actors who can create interesting and surprisingly varied sets through their movements, even including some moments of impressive acrobatics.

Of course, this would all be for naught if this comedy wasn’t funny as well as being visually and aurally impressive, but thankfully ‘Behind the Mirror’ had me (and the whole audience) giggling from start to finish. A combination of brilliantly executed slapstick, self aware wisecracks from the omniscient narrator and canny use of the language barrier make for a roaring good time. The entire play is delivered in Korean, with English subtitles are projected on the back wall, and the play uses this detachment between audience and performers to craft some of the show’s best jokes.

‘Behind the Mirror’ has a manic energy to it that might prove a bit much for some, but I absolutely loved it. It’s not perfect, with the ending suffering from a bit of tonal whiplash and being in general a bit of a cop out, but the sheer glee and enthusiasm of this cast means that it’s easy to look past this. The cast make something as intricate as an hour long acapella musical filled with complex movement and zippy dialogue look effortless, and it’s clear that a lot of heart and soul has been poured into this wonderful show. If you’ll pardon the pun, it’s a production that’s been polished to a mirror shine.

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