Edinburgh Fringe 2017
From the cave to the woods, the story of a girl who wants to be somebody else. But can she succeed?
Go Theatre Company are a Korean physical theatre and dance company, who happen to be dab hands at complex harmonised a cappella and storytelling too. Behind The Mirror is the story of a maid, Yeoni, a girl lost in the woods with a precious mirror she has stolen from her mistress, a princess.
Yeoni has always wanted to be someone else. In the woods she meets Yaseng who grew up in the wild, and convinces him that she is, in fact, a princess. She tries to teach him human behavioural habits whilst simultaneously confronting the soldiers sent to find the princess’ precious mirror.
This beautifully told a cappella musical is created in its entirety by the eight performers, four male, four female. Like opera, it is sung in the language in which it was written, namely Korean. And, like opera, you can follow the story on super-titles, though in this case that was unnecessary as the story was so beautifully illustrated with dance, mime, acrobatics and physical theatre that it needed no translation.
The tonality, harmonies and expression in the ensemble singing was superb. Vocal dynamics, vocal percussion, sounds of the forest, sounds of the cave, sounds of the elements overhead were all created by the performers without amplification. The humour and pathos was evident from the movement and vocal effects to the point where the super-titles actually became irrelevant.
Great attention had been paid to getting every little detail spot-on. Twenty seconds of movement to create the effect of a family of six swans swimming across a lake whilst Tchaikovsky’s famous Swan Lake was sung in six part just summed it up. It must have taken hours to have created that effect with the precision that this high class troupe delivered just one small element of this captivating piece of theatre.
And, in an amusing coup de grace, the traditional sad ending to this tale was given an alternative happy lift. After all, sad endings are bad for business, and these guys are back off home to start a tour of their own country. It’s a long way to go and see a show, but if you happen to be passing through Korea anytime soon, it’s well worth a look.