We find ourselves between a neighbourly feud in a block of flats in Seoul. The resident of 709 is plagued by an inconsiderate neighbour, whose screechy cat and night-time musings repeatedly keep him awake. One day, our protagonist finds himself in erroneous receipt of a parcel intended for a different flat, but rather than return it he discovers that it gives him a thrill like nothing else. Soon he finds himself rummaging through post boxes; dodging the night guard and avoiding the judgements of his co-habitants in search of this newfound adrenaline: a deep-held desire only the postal service can satiate.
Promising in its concept but ultimately fails to deliver
It is a rather silly storyline, but one which works well with the over-emphasised clowning of Cho-In Theatre Company. Korean dialogue is translated by two assistive television monitors, although the production’s strength lies in its physicality rather than narrative. Sets are changed by a polished ensemble moving several large fabric screens across a gridded floor in precise unison, before projections transform them into a myriad of different locations.
The premise of this physicality is impressive, requiring an expert and precise manipulation to align the screens with the wealth of projections illuminating them. But beyond the concept of these transitions, the actual delivery is patchy and erratic. Projections only cover a small number of fabric screens, working to highlight the beige nothingness of those unilluminated. Similarly, the aesthetic vision of the projections is a wholly inconsistent haphazard concoction of pseudo-realism and saccharine cartoons.
Ensemble work is tight and evidently well-rehearsed, but the excessive exaggeration of even mundane plot points makes for excruciatingly mawkish viewing. When the storyline comes from physicality rather than text, a lack of differentiation in facial expression creates a somewhat confusing affair. Elements of clowning that may have once added to the theatrical experience become a monotonous and unwelcome standard of hyperbole.
Bold in character and unique in presentation, Spray is promising in its concept but ultimately fails to deliver.