SOUTH-Korean playwright Hansol Jung’s Wild Goose Dreams has its UK premiere at the Ustinov Studio in Bath until 21st December.
It’s a modern version of a legend, a love story and a look at how the internet and social media connect the world and divide the individual.
Michael Boyd’s production for the Ustinov is a hugely inventive high energy look at loneliness and breakdown in communication at a time when we are all supposed to be in touch with each other all the time.
Audiences arriving at the studio theatre are confronted by what looks like a small room in a disused industrial building. The courageous lighting plot adds to the strangeness, as the story unfolds.
It opens with a man sitting on stage telling a story of a angel who falls in love with a human. The parable is played out as North Korean Yoo Nanhee meets South Korean Guk Minsung on a dating app. She’s a refugee living alone in Seoul and sending money home to her beloved father. He’s a “goose father” – a man who lives as frugally as he can so that his wife and child, sent to America for the sake of a good education, can live on his money. Both are lonely, and made more so by the constant barrage of messages on various devices promoting delirious happiness and boundless love.
But their romance, begun coldly and with the distance their divided countries imposes, is like that of the angel and the woodman.
The “devices” are characterised by the chorus, five singing, dancing actors whose presence is a permanent reminder of aspiration, expectation and failure.
Rick Kiesewetter, a stand-up comedian and actor, has the gravitas of the storyteller and the dream-existence of the estranged father, the London Kim as the tortured Minsung and Chuja Seo as Nanhee.
The Ustinov has built a national reputation for introducing new plays to the audience in the south west, and Wild Goose Dreams is very different from the mainstream, brilliantly conceived to encapsulate a traditional society hurled into the 21st century. It is full of excitement, pathos, longing and humour, with an overarching hopelessness and acceptance of fate.
See it if you can. It’s a real contrast to most of the shows you’ll find on stage in December, and let’s hope it goes on into London.