A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Globe, 1 May 2012
The Yohangza Dream was a 90-minute production set within Korean folklore that shifted the focus of the play to set it wholly within the world of the mischievous sprites known as Dokkebi.
Right at the start, two of them issued a cheery instruction to the audience to turn off their mobile phones.
Whereas the play normally begins in the world of the mortals and the forced marriage of Hermia to Demetrius, this production started with a parade of Dokkebi who entered through the yard and sang and danced in joy at the mischief they were planning.
Their brightly painted faces, topped off by blue hair, expressed their impish sense of fun as they danced to pounding drums and cymbals.
The Korean equivalents of the Lysander and Hermia, called Hang and Beok respectively, picked up the story at the point where they decide to elope, telling Ik (Helena) of their plan.
The dissension in the fairy world between Titania and Oberon was also altered. We saw the boasting of the womanising Gabi, the fairy king, who flirted in English with women in yard. This was watched from the balcony by his fairy queen Dot, whose fierce grimacing face was a constant source of amusement in the scenes in which she featured.
Dot summoned her little brother Duduri (Puck), represented by two twin sprites, to obtain a magic flower in order to trick her errant husband. In this version it was Titania who duped Oberon.
Ik’s pursuit of her love Loo saw them shuffle slowly across the stage, indicating by gesture that they were running quickly, as this production’s Helena chased Demetrius.
Dot wafted a pole with the flowers on its end under Gabi’s nose to charm him.
The Dokkebis formed a forest through which Hang and Beok ran, constantly changing to present new obstacles. Hang’s advances were rebuffed and the couple slept apart.
Hang was charmed by accident and the standard confusion of the play caused him to fall in love with Ik.
With no mechanicals in the production, the role of Bottom was replaced by Ajumi, an old woman who roamed the forest collecting herbs. She entered through the yard as the Dokkebi sang and danced with drums and cymbals.
Ajumi rubbed herself with own pee to ward off the Dokkebi, who retaliated by turning her into a pig. With the pig ear mask firmly in place, she began snorting and pawing at the ground.
This was unfortunate because she had originally came to the forest late at night because her granny had told her that something good would happen to her if she went there.
Gabi woke up and fell in love with Ajumi as a pig.
After the interval the Duduri handed out glow rings to the audience, with one groundling being presented with a large glow ring that appeared to be smeared with something unpleasant while her attention was distracted.
The charm having worked, Duduri informed Dot that Gabi had gone mad and was in love with a pig.
Beok argued with Loo, in the standard version of Hermia accusing Demetrius of doing away with Lysander.
Loo fell asleep and was charmed with magic flower, so that he fell in love with Ik.
This led into the fantastic four-way battle between all the lovers. The actors staged a series of impressive acrobatic tussles. It looked much better than most standard UK stagings, as this form of theatre is built around agile movement.
After saying in English “I’m short. So what?” Beok launched a flying kick at Ik and was briefly held in position by the others as her foot connected with her taunting rival.
Eventually Dot stopped the fighting and sent the lovers away in pairs.
Gabi doted on Ajumi, who sat eating a melon. He asked her what she wanted to eat. She cried out in English for mushy peas, jellied eels and fish & chips!
Satisfied with her revenge, Dot lifted the charms from Ajumi and her husband, so that they were reunited with him now devoted to his wife.
A lively Dokkebi dance was followed by the couples waking from their sleep with each in love with the right person.
In this version of the story everyone got a happy ending. The story told to Ajumi by her granny came true when she found a very valuable herb, so that the finale saw everyone sing with joy.
The cast came back for several curtain calls and exited through yard before posing for photos with audience members in foyer.
Just like Beok, the production might have been short, but it was also fiercely entertaining.
The sight of the Duduri entering with one hanging upside down on the other’s back with his head dangling by his twin’s knees was wonderful to behold.
The sheer physicality and speed of Yohangza’s version created a joyously bright spectacle, setting a standard that other productions of Dream will find difficult to match.