WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse
February 13 – 23 2014
지하 Underground (Australia/South Korea)
February 12 – 16 2014
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
Follow your curiosity to 지하 Underground, a pop-up Korean speakeasy bursting with live music and magical storytelling.
Drink the night away with the bar’s eccentric proprietor as his ragtag crew of musicians unfold a timeless tale of love that transcends culture, language, and gender. Created by Jeremy Neideck and Nathan Stoneham alongside an international team, this strange and beautiful travelling tavern returns to Brisbane after sell-out seasons in 2011 and 2012.
Post-show, 지하 Underground‘s bar stays open, bursting with performances by special friends and lovers.
괴짜 사장님과 밤새도록 술잔을 기울이는 동안 , 바 종업원들로 구성된 오합지졸 밴드가 만들어내는 멋진 선율 속에 문화와 언어와 성性을 초월한 사랑 이야기가 펼쳐 집니다.
제레미 나이덱, 네이슨 스톤햄,그들과 한 팀을 이룬 국제적 공연자들에 의해 창작된 이 신비하고 아름다운 이동식 선술집은 2011년 2012년 전회 매진을 기록하고, 드디어 여러분들 곁으로 다시 찾아 옵니다!
공연 후, 지하 Underground 바(Bar)에서는 특별한 친구들과 연인들의 특별한 공연들이 계속 이어 지며 바도 오픈되어 있습니다!
지하 Underground is so nearly a Brisbane institution that I’m surprised a) it’s taken me so long to see it and b) it doesn’t yet have a permanent home somewhere. This is a show that has been evolving since 2011 and to be honest, I guess if it had a permanent home it might just lose a little of its magic, because the whole notion of “pop-up”, whether it’s in retail or the theatre, is a magical idea in itself.
It’s a theatrical experience completely unlike any other – part play, part musical, part karaoke – and a completely convincing unique brand of storytelling, which entices, embraces, and invites us after each show to stay and dance with the company and their special guests as part of an up-late program of awesome performers, including Michelle Zen and the Neon and Polytoxic.
It’s the kind of place where everyone greets you, you grab a drink from the bar, settle comfortably, have a great time and find it reeeally difficult to leave, and even more difficult to resist coming back for a second visit. We feel right at home in the unfamiliar surrounds (well, for me, having never been to Korea) of a cute and cluttered speakeasy, crossing paths with the most interesting people, and sharing the quirky space and the queer love story created by Jeremy Neideck and Nathan Stoneham.
Told in English and Korean, it’s not your typically commercially touted tale, and embedded within an original musical soundtrack there are just as many lighter, lovelier moments as there are dark, devastating and confronting segments, both musically and theatrically. A fine balance is created by multi-skilled storytellers/performers who have a special gift for finding the rhythm of the piece, individually and as a tight-knit ensemble, without appearing to look for it at all. The writing and direction allow the story to unfold as naturally as if we were all friends up for a big night out together…and we actually feel as if we are. The voices are raw, real and fantastic, and everybody picks up a musical instrument or two. A special surprise performance from vocalist and guitarist random audience member, Henry, sets the relaxed tone of the evening before the pace picks up with a game of fish tank BINGO to decide which of the 지하 Underground bar staff will play which characters in the story they retell each night. Highly energised and hilarious sequences, such as the Coconut Princess (Neideck) racing from one end of the space to the other, through the audience several times to climb up onto an exercise bike on top of a cabinet while singing, smiling, and remembering each time to pick up his suitcase of stuff, are juxtaposed against strange and beautifully mellow moments of memory and quiet contemplation.
지하 Underground is such a strong piece, and it stands out at this festival for being truly original, challenging AND entertaining.
As such 지하 Underground has developed a cult following since its inception. I genuinely expect it to run forever, in some capacity, all over the world! It’s a new kind of crazy-genius cross-cultural collaborative creative gem that has real heart and soul (and watermelon and sparkle and disco!). It works on the heart and the head, and on the soul, and I’m going to find it really hard to let it go; its characters and their stories will stay with me, like a dream that I can’t get back to, long after the music and the sparkles have gone.