Behind the Mirror

There’s something charming about a fairy tale told in a fundamentally unique manner. Behind the Mirror is functionally just that: A retelling of a Korean fairy tale in its original language through the medium of acappella music and dance. It has a humour that’s unique to itself, and is beyond earnestly performed. However, it struggles to maintain a level of consistent engagement that keeps it from truly excelling.

Interesting, impressive and original – a rarity at the Fringe.

The story is split into two pieces: the story of Pyong-gang, a princess who falls in love with an idiot named Ondal, and the story of Yeoni, who steals from Pyong-gang and pretends to be her as she traverses the forest. While the story mostly focuses on Yeoni, both narratives have a stylish flair to them that gives them a feeling of being beyond reality, something necessary to making such a strange story feel engaging. However, this supernatural feeling also leads to a sort of distancing effect. The story never feels present in the same way that many others do, and this may be because it is fundamentally a fairy tale, but it made it difficult to understand the characters’ actions. That led to the play becoming less interesting to watch as it went on.

However, the story is almost a backdrop against which to see these performers work. Beyond the Mirror features some fantastic choreography and excellent acapella music which these performers had the skills to make it feel full in a way few other productions manage. The dance was more along the lines of tumbling and gymnastics than it was traditional dance, but it was nevertheless impressive. Watching a woman climb through a simulated cave made of the bodies of the other cast members was probably the most impressive part. This is further supported by music, which had a fun, k-pop feel to it.

I enjoyed Behind the Mirror, but it isn’t a show for everyone. It relies a lot on subtitles, which don’t always match the pace of the actors’ delivery, and can be difficult to follow. This is especially hard for children, who might well be the best target audience for this show. However, despite all of that, this show was interesting, impressive and original – a rarity at the Fringe. 

Reviews by Miles Hurley

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

From the cave to the woods, created only by actors' movement! Korean physical comedy with amazing vocal music takes us to the beautiful story of a girl lost in the woods with a precious mirror. Yeoni, who always wants to be someone else, meets Yaseng who grew up in the wild, and tells him she is a princess. While she tries to teach him a human way to live, she confronts spies running after the thief who stole the precious mirror. Will Yeoni be able to safely escape from the spies and tell Yaseng the truth?

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