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Arts Fringes

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THEATRE

Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well! Live stage shows in Central Scotland, be they Shakespeare or avant-garde.

Edinburgh Fringe 2017: Binari @ C venues C royale

What the Edinburgh Fringe website says:

A story about the life of an old woman who has been numbed by a difficult and challenging life. She arrives at the end of her life, but she cannot leave the world in peace. The woman represents the mother figure who has Han. This journey incorporates Korean folk songs, rituals, dances, artefacts and symbolic objects. Discover this poetic, mysterious and beautiful Korean tale. (Han is a Korean cultural expression for emotional baggage accumulated through pain and life trauma).

Watch a video:

Companion pieces

Binari is the second of two Korean plays by director Jungnam Lee and the Mac Company playing at this year’s Fringe. The two (the other being Kokdu) are very much companion pieces, as they both focus on cultural rites and superstitions surrounding the passing of a person between life and death. Again, there is a mixture of folk songs, dancing, mime-style acting, atmospheric lighting, masquerade and some sparse snippets of both Korean and English dialogue.

In my opinion, this is the slightly better and more accessible of the two productions. The venue is smaller than the one used for Kokdu - a factor which could have made the production feel cramped. However, Mac Company make the most of the limitations and, if anything, the sense of intimacy helps to make the production more resonant. The plot setup is also less complex and largely confined to a midsection, where we learn about the circumstances surrounding the death of the woman mentioned in the above synopsis. It is based on a traditional Korean mask play and pans out in a very gesture-based (almost comical) fashion that’s easy to follow.

Make a song and dance about it

The play is bookended by a large amount of lively singing and dancing with a copious symbolic use of veils, a large paper boat, lanterns and white cloth. This is all part of a Korean Shamanic ritual known as “Gut” which, according to the supplied leaflet, “makes the regrettable souls have fun and leave this life without any lingering affection towards this world”.

The amount of colour and movement coupled with the Korean folk music makes for an entrancing experience, well worth catching. For those uninitiated into Korean folklore, it's probably best to start with this one and then move onto Kokdu.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Tickets are available from the following link:

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 logo

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