In this world full of happenings and relationships, people come to face bizarre situation which cannot just happen by mere chance. It may seem as a great coincidence which appears only a couple of times in a lifetime or as an inevitable destiny which is totally out of their control. The performance Is This Coincidence? here brings another answer to the possibility. Through love stories of the characters, it slowly whispers to people that “everything is fate, but fate entirely given to the hands of people.”
“Is this coincidence?” Every person would have at least spoken this question once in his or her entire lifetime. This performance also begins with the same suspicion about coincidence and destiny. Two men and two women become the main characters of the plot and draw out the drama full of affection with some tension. With a story closely related to daily routines and realistic development, the performance immediately grabs its viewers into the pool of sympathy. Is This Coincidence? is continuously on progress in the second stage of Sori Art Hall, Daehangno. This is the fourth show on tour which started in August of 2013. The play of the recent turn rolled up its curtain on April 16 and will continue at an open-run.
“Lee Hong Joo, don’t you remember me?” goes the milestone dialogue of the performance. Lee Hong Joo, the female protagonist, bumps into a boy who she had delivered love letters for her friend 13 years ago. They incidentally happen to live as neighbors and work in the same building. As they eat and talk together, their light relation turns subtle and blooms into affection. There also appear one-way love characters, Hong Joo’s friend and her supervisor, who later comes to find out their true love. Every relationship they make and every action they take seem warped and disconnected if seen one by one, but ultimately becomes one big tree in the big picture.
As it is not difficult to see adaptations across all media, the basic plot of the performance is grounded on a famous web-cartoon with the same title. Written and drawn by authors Nam Ji Eun and Kim In Ho, this web-cartoon maintained ratings over 9.8 out of 10 throughout all the series. The storyline performance adopted is in fact identical with the cartoon. Nevertheless, there was definitely something different with the expression. “We tried our best to be loyal to web-cartoon, but also urged to show something unique as a play,” said Choi Si Mon, the actor for male protagonist. Accordingly, the play diversified characters’ emotions and added humor in order to reveal original traits of the medium called performance.
While a web-cartoon can display the changes in emotion through facial expressions of characters, it is not easy to utilize the same method to a performance, considering the vast size of the stage. Instead, the play implemented lighting and soliloquy to emphasize the feelings of each character. In a moment, all the lights focus on one character and shadow the others. People in the dark halt their motion and the character under the spot light speaks of his or her hidden sentiments. Those feelings had been either excitement or jealousy, two opposite elements of love. Some actors even bounced off their heart so as to tell the audience that they just fell in love.
The use of humor is undoubtedly the most noticeable trait in this play. The actors exaggerate their movements and facial expression to present laughter to audience. When the male protagonist Kang Hoo Young first recognizes Lee after 13 years, he twists his body and opens his mouth wide in a hilarious way. This is not only to tell audience that Kang remembered her at first sight but also to derive laughter from them. Other than this, the actors sit on nothing pretending there is a chair, talk while asleep, and stammer throughout the whole performance just to have people’s mouth tips up.
Besides, there are two special supporting actors who brightrn up the stage and guide the performance to perfection. They call themselves multi-girl and multi-boy since they cover up most of the supplementing roles in the play. “We are the salt and sugar of the performance, and the main source of laughter,” said Jung Kyung Shik, the multi-boy. They change themselves into the main character’s friends, the supervisor’s parents, Lee’s first love, and co-workers. Using a whole bunch of props and altering their voices, they transform themselves into other characters which become the main basis of show. Though there are only two, multi-boy and multi-girl hold on to the underground root and prevent the entire performance from swaying.
They have the most contribution to the chuckling sound that echoes throughout the audience seats. If the main characters made the audience giggle with trivial humor and actions, these two multi-people expose their everything to set viewers apart from the drama itself. Their dialogues, motions, and expressions are far apart from being normal even with half an eye and are apparently intentional. The multi-boy jumps around the stage like an insane man and multi-girl keeps arguing that she herself is a flower. They also communicate with the audience by pointing to them directly and mentioning them while acting. Eventually they render viewers to notice they are merely seeing a short play, and draw more and more laughter out.
The stage decoration and props also give prominence to the medium of performance. In web-cartoons or in movies, it is easy to show contents coming and going through a phone regarding mise-en-scene. However, that is not possible on stage with no camera or projector. The performance Is This Coincidence? therefore made the idea of setting a large phone screen in the very middle of the stage. It was an inevitable choice considering the frequent use of cell phone in the play itself, and the staffs wisely gave an answer to the limits of performance. The actors also use window sills made out of paper and move chairs and tables around in front of audience, which is quite unusual in other media.
Like the old proverb “people can make out their own fate”, the performance Is This Coincidence? gently shows audience how people can create their own path of destiny with their own will. When Kang did nothing after first recognizing Lee, things would have merely ended as a weird coincidence. But since he kept on talking to her, moved his apartment close to her house, and gave a delicious meal to her every evening, coincidence turned into love and love turned into destiny. Every choice had been given to Lee and Kang in deciding whether they will pass their moment as accident or hold on to the moment as fate. This makes the audience look back onto their moments and leaves an impression even after the curtain call.
After 110 minutes of running time, people gave a big round of applause that did not shortly come to an end. The performance Is This Coincidence? successfully captured two rabbits called “humor” and “impression”. The overall form of the play was never under the original web-cartoon in that it presented the audience with unforgettable laughter and a realistic lesson. This performance will never be regrettable to view once for people who have ever had this question in their head—“Is this coincidence?”