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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

The Messenger

Creative Group Geo-gi-ga-myeon / Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd

Genre: Comedy, International, Mask

Venue: Assembly Roxy


Low Down

The authorities are after grandma. For what we are never quite sure, but somewhere in her husband’s photography studio she manages to hide and avoid, for the majority of time, the agents of oppression sent to find her. In the course of the day, which is their wedding anniversary, we have much slapstick as clients come and go and our elderly couple take us back to when they first met and when they first wed before slow motion fighting brings is to our climax.


This is a very good example of mask work being delivered with skill. There is little doubt that we have three very able mask artists – supported by two other unsighted, for the most part, artists backstage, who switch between characters with ease but recognise and can demonstrate how each character should be played and how each character is distinctly performed.

The narrative is slightly confusing because we are asked to believe that grandma is a high profile target – so high profile not one but two agents are needed to bring her in! it is also very slapstick and pulling someone’s trousers down in any comedy, is simply that. There are times when there is an air of unsophistication about it, however, what there is, is tremendous skill to deliver the punchlines. I particularly thought the water fight great, the nun versus the man with the chimes was excellent, the grandma chase sequence fantastic and the dog portrait one which remained in my memory. As a coherent whole, it had enough pace to keep us onboard and we were wonderfully entertained by it all.

The wedding sequences and the denouement were well executed too, and we continued to be very engaged and invested in grandma getting away. Just why she should be shielded from the agents is the one place we needed to have more explained. Not knowing did not add to the mystery nor remove any of our judgments.

It also really does need some physical material which would get rid of some of the cheaper gags. The quality of a lot of the work would suggest a very creative team at play and for the vast majority of this, including the wedding planners’ sequence, you can see what is possible with a physically astute bunch. I wanted more of the clever stuff, because that is where they excelled.

Costumes and mask were excellent. Mask work, of course, demands that the physical picture is one which needs us to buy into it. The physical movement of each performer can do so much but it truly needs the mask to match the character and the costume to make us believe. Here we had a tremendous example of that being done very well.

Overall, though I really liked this, there are areas I thought we should have had a deeper narrative structure – more explained and less left to chance. What was not in doubt, were the abilities and creative joy which was on display – I left delighted that I got to see it.