Event reports and reviews

I was feeling grumpy when I went into this show and had decided I was not going to enjoy it. I had rushed to get there having just got off the train. It had started late, and if it overran I wasn’t going to have time to get to the next show. And I’m not […]

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Fringe visit: Girl

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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Modl Theatre Company is perhaps best known in this country for its work aimed at younger audiences, but it is a diverse company which also engages with more adult material too. And you can’t get much more adult than a graphic description of the surgical procedure that the Japanese forced upon young Korean girls so […]

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Fringe visit: Dandelion’s Story

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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What on earth makes a theatre company think that creating a piece about doggy poo is a good idea? How do you persuade an actress that taking on the role of a talking turd is a big break for her? Well, firstly, this production is aimed at children, and kids of all ages find poo […]

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Fringe visit: Tiger in Blossom

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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This is a simple retelling for children of the Korean folk tale of the Tiger and the Woodcutter, in which a woodcutter, about to be killed by a tiger in the forest, persuades the beast that he used to be human, and is in fact his elder brother. The initially sceptical tiger eventually falls for […]

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Fringe visit: The Song of Beast (after Hamlet)

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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Imagine Hamlet scripted / co-directed by Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy), Ryu Seung-wan (Veteran / Unjust) and Yoon Jong-bin (Nameless Gangster), with dialogue input from Yang Ik-joon (Breathless), and music by Cho Young-wook (Oldboy) and you’re starting to get close what this production is like. The setting is moved from Denmark to an abattoir which has a […]

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Fringe visit: Chef – Come Dine with Us

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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A Korean physical theatre / comedy performance involving cooking? Does that sound like Nanta? Well, yes. We loved Nanta when it came to Kingston and were happy to see what this seemingly very similar show had to offer. Judging by the poster, it certainly had a thoroughly ripped male torso to entice you. The scenario […]

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Fringe visit: Snap

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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This show was far from being my highlight of the Fringe. The audience seemed to enjoy it, and the reviews are very favourable, particularly from families with children. I myself couldn’t help feeling that I’d seen it all before: the sort of sleight of hand magic tricks you see done on TV variety shows.  On […]

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Fringe visit: Tago – Korean Drum II

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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On paper, one hour of Korean drumming doesn’t sound appealing, but this type of show is consistently popular with fringe-goers. There is enough variety to keep the audience interested, from Buddhist temple percussion to Samulnori, and the energy and enthusiasm of the performers is infectious. There is also some very non-traditional percussion: a trolley which […]

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Concert notes: China, Korea and Syria at Club Inégales

by Philip Gowman 25 July 2016
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The final gig of Club Inégales’ current season was predictably unpredictable. You know the format in advance, but you never know what the outcome will be. The house band, or subsets of it, improvise in the first set; in the second set the guests solo; and in the third set everyone plays together, cross fertilising […]

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Exhibition visit: Koo Jeong A upgrades Charing Cross

by Philip Gowman 4 July 2016
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When we visited the Venice Biennale in 2009, one of the installations in the Giardini was by Koo Jeong A entitled A Reality Upgrade & End Alone (2009). The installation involved the sprinkling of 3,000 rhinestones on the grass near the cafeteria, which should have resulted in the tired lawn miraculously coming alive with fairy dust. And indeed that’s […]

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Concert notes: Gamin and Notes Inégales at the Spitalfields Festival

by Philip Gowman 27 June 2016
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When we previewed the double bill at Wilton’s Music Hall featuring Purcell with Korean, Middle Eastern and western instruments, improvisation and more, we had an inkling that the evening might be something special. And we were darn right. This was music making and entertainment that is rare to find anywhere. First, the Purcell. King Arthur / the […]

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Neon Bunny – please come back to London soon!

by Philip Gowman 6 June 2016
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London has been doing well recently for live music: from B.A.P to Jambinai via Dead Buttons and more, there has been something for everyone. But the artist that I personally have been looking forward to seeing more than the rest is Neon Bunny (야광토끼) – whose debut album Seoulight made it into the list of […]

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The Priests – another excellent LKFF16 teaser

by Philip Gowman 3 June 2016
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The second of the KCC’s “teaser screenings” for the 2016 London Korean Film Festival, which screened last night at the Picturehouse Central, was another hit. Let’s hope they keep this up. Jang Jae-hyun’s The Priests was a hugely fun (and suspense-filled) exorcism movie, and an impressive full-length debut for the director. It will win new […]

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Book review: Cheon Myeong-kwan — Modern Family

by Philip Gowman 2 June 2016
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Cheon Myeong-kwan: Modern Family Translated by Kyoung-lee Park White Pine Press Korean Voices Series, 2015 Originally published as 고령화 가족 by Munhakdongne Publishing Corp, 2010 The KCC has been running its Korean Literature Nights for more than two years now. The discussion group has an enthusiastic and regular following, to the extent that seats have […]

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Hay Joung Hwang wins Silver Gilt at Chelsea Flower Show

by Philip Gowman 30 May 2016
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Congratulations to Hay Joung Hwang for winning a silver gilt medal for her first show garden at Chelsea. Hwang’s LG Smart Garden combined soft pastel-coloured planting in a very English style with clean, modern lines for an outside living space. The feature which caught everyone’s attention was the cantilevered pergola which reached over the terrace, […]

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Concert review: BAP – Live at the Coronet, Elephant and Castle

by Linda Derham 19 May 2016
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BAP – Live at the Coronet, Elephant and Castle, 13 May 2016. Sold out – and could have been sold out three times over, from what I hear. TLDR: the venue was awful but BAP lived up to their name! Do you want the good bit or the bad bit first? I’ll get the bad […]

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The Reckitt Benckiser death campaign comes to London

by Philip Gowman 9 May 2016
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Reckitt Benckiser’s problems in Korea haven’t had much attention in the UK until recently. But a growing campaign to boycott their products in Korea, and a small group of campaigners who came over to picket the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting on 5 May, have brought the issues into the mainstream. A week ago, Reckitt Benckiser (RB) […]

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