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As before, we will not be reviewing any plays staged at The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest 2011. But, you can! If you have watched the show and want the opportunity to express your views in print, please email us a short review between 50 and 150 words by noon the next day.
A selection of Citizen Reviews will be published in The MetroPlus. Feel free to express your views.
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In the midst of masterful expressionist stagecraft, minimalist and intriguing masks, splendid puppetry and an occasional stroke of paint, the bizarre ‘Kkok-Du’ relives Korea’s slapstick humour, infused with some of the most weird, surreal dialogue ever heard on stage. Masterfully directed, and one of the most well-produced plays staged at the MetroPlus Theatre Fest, ‘Kkok-Du’ blends a bounty of folk and culture, the usual “push and shove” comedy of Korea and a surprisingly effective use of pop culture references – the humour ranges from the surreal to the ridiculous and has its moments of depth and seriousness, something which may be overlooked, thanks to the beauty of the set. Themes of death and afterlife (from Korean folk) are hinted at and it’s these mighty qualities that make ‘Kkok-Du’ so much more complex than a slapstick comedy.
The opening play at The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest, ‘Kkok-Du’, by Korean theatre group Creative Group Noni, saw the clever use of light and shadow along with puppetry. The sets were aesthetic and the costumes interesting — huge masks a la the Greeks were employed.
Unfortunately, the toilet humour was not the kind the Chennai audience is generally appreciative of.
A colourful mix
‘Kkok-Du’ was a mix of several genres, laced with street humour and slapstick. The Oriental drums, pipe music, colourful puppets and beautifully backlit shadow puppets heightened the theatrical experience. The puppets narrating half the story and their characters’ human counterparts enacting the other half were inspirational. The mythical python was a showstopper. Its metaphor, being both archetypal and Oriental in nature, was brought out even more with the last beautiful and haunting rendition of a traditional funeral song. The theme illustrating the futility of life and death was treated with an indulgent attitude which added to the humour.
Awe and anguish
Kkok-Du opens as most Korean theatre productions do — strikingly stark, with exquisite lighting, and cleverly crafted paper lanterns adding to the mood. Characteristic Korean percussion is heard along with clanging cymbals. The backlight shows dancing musicians in scintillating silhouette. One waits for the promised storyline… but all one gets are shockers — gutter humour which the brochure calls “earthy”. One prepares to get up and leave. Again the magic… The screen comes alive with a python writhing across the screen... again some exquisite silhouettes. Still no story but stagecraft that any theatre person would kill for...again the crass humour laced with crass action… Finally, one can take it no more and leaves the show with a lot of mixed feelings. Awe for the craft but tinged with anguish for the trash that is shown as art.
I was deeply disappointed with ‘Kkok-du’, the inaugural play of the MetroPlus Theatre Fest. The storyline was incomprehensible and, in fact, irritating. The saving grace was the percussionist, who was exceptionally good, and the shadow play. The content in most places left a bad taste.
K. Shanta Nayar
Within the conventions of theatre, ‘Kkok-Du’ would be seen as suffering from a lazy script. Twenty minutes of the 80-minute production was devoted to an elegiac epilogue to an old debauch who supposedly drowns to death in a cup of water. Such criticism could be overcome if contextualised and studied within the framework of traditional Korean music and puppetry. But the predicament here was locating the art of ribaldry which was its driving principle.
Despite director Kim’s attempt at creating ‘relevance for contemporary audiences’ with traditional Korean forms, the play meandered.
Spectacular and extraordinary. That describes ‘Kkok-Du’, performed on August 12 by Creative Group Noni of Korea. The brilliant puppetry left us awestruck. The narrative had us in splits, the actors masked as puppets and the rhythmic music were a delight. The use of props was splendid — from the gorgeous paper-cut lanterns to the sketching of the python. The special effects and the use humorous lines left the audience asking for more!
DAV Girls School
Scintillating in parts
Creative Group Noni’s ‘Kkok Du’ scintillates with a performance that starts with an aged Mr. Park looking for his missing wife. The narrative flows with a well-executed combination of performances by puppets, masks, shadows and humans. The lighting, vocals and musical accompaniment deserve special mention. However, a weak storyline does little to hold the show together and the street humour comes across as crass.
The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest 2011 began to the beating of drums and cymbals and graceful shadows dancing on stage. ‘Kkok-Du’, the Korean shadow-puppet theatre show, telling the story of Mr. Park’s search for his wife and his experiences with death, unfolded. The serene white background, shadow puppetry and shadow artistry took one’s breath away. The subtitles were useful even if some ideas were lost in translation, but it was the live music and the effects that transported the viewers to another world. Toilet humour in small doses did make its appearance, but did not detract from the overall experience.
Kirthi V Rao
Not a great start
While the interplay between the actors and the puppets was interesting, ‘Kkok-Du’s storyline lacked depth. Described as “street level” in the introduction, the humour of this old wives’ tale frequently descended to gutter level, relieved only with some counterbalancing by a versatile percussionist. If eliciting giggles and sniggers from teenagers was the objective of the effort, it succeeded. But serious theatre-goers were disappointed by the superficial portrayal of an ancient culture. Not a great start to Theatre Fest 2011.
Judah S. G. Vincent
Collage of emotions
‘Kkok-Du’, the play by the Korean group Noni, blended myriad art forms — puppets, masks, shadow puppetry, and traditional Korean musical instruments. Based on a Korean folk tale, it was a collage of emotions and scenes replete with drama and earthy humour. The puppets that disappeared and reappeared, and the enchanting painting that emerged on cloth were a feast to the eye!
Keywords: The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest 2011