Two Ways of Sitting Through a Performance

One week in Seoul—and two performances that could not have been more different. On the one hand sipping a Coke in a wine restaurant where just two meters in front of me “a sad, hilarious and irresistible two man show about the filming of a Hollywood epic in rural Ireland” takes place. On the other hand sitting next to hundreds of Koreans, watching a man accused of everything in the world, or nothing at all. But let’s start at the beginning…
ItaewonIt was a sunny Sunday afternoon. I went to Itaewon, a neighborhood that might be best destribed as an “Americatown”, in the sense of a reverse Chinatown. Because of a US Army base located in near-by Yongsan, Americans and other foreigners—both tourists and long-time residents—make up about 50% of the people that crowd the streets of Itaewon. There are many European, Mexican, Arabian and Indian restaurants as well as Seoul’s one and only mosque.

When I enter the tapas-and-wine restaurant Vin Vino at about four o’clock, half an hour before the show, the woman selling tickets seems relieved—in fact, there is not much going on yet. Some people are working with the sound system and the lighting backstage (which means next to the empty area right next to the tables). Although the wine list boasts quite a number of labels from all over the world—including the vineyards on the bank of the river Nahe—I decide against an early drink.

Twenty minutes later, the audience has grown a bit, a family munching on some bread rolls and sipping different kinds of wine and a few other people, all of them looking “Western” and engaged in conversation in English. Not surprising, as the play to be shown is “Stones in his Pockets” by Marie Jones, performed by two English expatriots—in English.

The play itself is rather unspectacular, making my  thoughts drift away, e.g. to the Korean drama series “Ireland” (aka 아일랜드, MBC 2004), whose oversea scenes were actually shot on the island of Jeju, Korea’s traditional honeymooners’ paradise (though nowadays largely replaced by Bali or Hawai’i).

Ben Cowburn (left) and Gef Somervell (right)

(c) BH productions, taken from a review in The Korea Times (April 28 2010)

Anyway, the two performers, Ben Cowburn and Gef Somervell, do a good job switching clothes by the minute and talking against rather distracting background noises. More about that later. (to be continued…)

— 2 May 2010 (日)

"Stones in His Pockets" infosheet

via “The Three Wise Monkeys”-blog


About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
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