Doing the laundry definitely is one of the most bothering chores. Just seeing the piles of clothes that need to be sorted out, washed, and dried out give stress to the already burdensome everyday life. However, it would be even more annoying to wear unwashed clothes all throughout the day, feeling uncomfortable about the wrinkles or even the smell. The healing musical Washing exactly grabs onto this concept, as it washes away all the troubles of daily life with friendly people and great songs.
Washing is an original musical that has been staged in Korea more than 1,000 times since its official debut in 2005. As a long-time running musical it has been loved for over 10 years, and has even been performed in Japan in 2012 and 2015. From January, Washing has even debuted in China, showing its potential as an international musical that can successfully move the hearts of the global audience. While everything from the characters to the setting are as normal as they could be, this is exactly what makes this 160 minute-long musical special.
The story of Washing centers on a 27-year-old bookstore clerk, Nayoung, and her neighbor, Solongo, a Mongolian immigrant. Although these two are the main characters, the many other characters all have their own unique charms that appeal to the viewers. However, this does not mean that the characters have anything special about their occupation or even their appearance. Before the musical starts, an actor from the musical even humorously warns that the audience should "not wait for handsome people."
▲ Nayoung and Solongo singing a song to each other. Provided by musical.tk.ac.kr
Rather, it is that normality of the characters that makes the characters and the entire musical attractive. Specifically, the audience of the musical would find themselves comparing themselves to at least one of the characters, sympathizing with their pain in life in Korea. For example, Washing features an employee getting stressed out everyday because of her boss, a man being pressured about his rent, youngsters yearning for love, and many more that are far from uncommon. Since the characters and the audience share similar pains, the actors and viewers can cooperate to wash them away.
In addition, in many parts of the musical, the unfairness of Korean society is implicitly pointed out, and they show how the problem can spoil a person's entire life. For example, a grim problem about the discrimination toward immigrants can be seen when the salary of a factory worker from the Philippines is delayed for three months. The criticism adds when the boss threatens to report about the immigrant's illegal stay if he continues to complain. Although Washing deals with such serious social issues, it does not remain gloomy and depressing. In other words, while pointing out grave but important issues, the musical succeeds in carrying its warm and lighthearted manner, thanks to the witty lines and cheerful music.
▲ All of the performers performing a number on Washing. Provided by musical.tk.ac.kr
The setting is also an interesting and crucial part of the musical. The incidents of Washing all occur within places in Seoul, switching from an old bookstore to a shabby residential area that Koreans would normally call a "moon village". However, rather than evoking the image of poor commoners, the setting is full of simplicity that brings the audience even closer to the musical. Pieces of clothes and bedclothes are pinned to the laundry line, worn-out doors of tiny rooms, and a house built close to the sky make up the entire picture of a tiny but warmhearted town.
The key, and the great merit of this production that made the long run staging of Washing possible, has to be the fact that there is no wall between the audience and the actors. At first it is extremely startling to see an actual actor from the performance to come up to the stage ten minutes before the start of the musical just to have a chat with the viewers. "I act as the owner of the supermarket over there," says the actor while pointing to a small mom-and-pop store on stage. While it must have been equally surprising to the spectators, the conversation perfectly helps in loosening up the tension of the atmosphere, and heightening the expectations.
▲ An actor singing about his sorrows in Seoul. Provided by musical.tk.ac.kr
In addition, one would be even more startled to notice each of the actors taking a bow to each and every person on the stairs of the exit. Just like its title as a "healing musical," the audience can feel as if they are special even if it lasts for just that single moment. The warmth that the actors give all throughout the musical before, during, and even after the musical is the beauty that no other audience of any other performance would experience. Even though the characters are definitely going through troubles, they do not stop in giving out love to other characters and the house crowd.
The point of doing the laundry is to get clean clothes, washing away the dirt and spots made from a hard day's work. Everyone knows that the cloth will get dirty once it is worn again. However, if it is not cleaned up at one point, the dust would pile up. Like the freshly washed clothes, life can be full of stains at one point, but it can also be cleaned up. This is exactly where the name of the musical Washing seems to come from and the lesson that it conveys. Therefore, come to this musical with the troubles that everyone holds every day, and leave with a new feeling of freshness and warmth.
Date: March 10, 2016 - Feburary 25, 2017 Time: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 8:00 P.M.
Wednesday 4:00P.M., 8:00 P.M.
Saturday 3:00 P.M.
Sunday 4:00 P.M.
(Check for exact dates at artcenterdyu.co.kr) Location: Dongyang Arts Center Ticket Price: 50,000 Won