Note: This review is from the 2017 Fringe

From the same company that brought us Kokdu: The Soul Mate, we have Binari. MAC Company are a theatre troupe from Korea that have two shows on at this years Edinburgh Fringe. Kokdu is an excellent dance and drama piece and Binari follows in the same vein. Although the later is not part of the official Korean programme at the Fringe, it is the perfect companion piece to Kokdu and recommended for anyone interested in Korean cultures and performance.

Binari begins with the sounding of a bell and here the audience witness a traditional funeral service. It is a somber start to the play. The performance has its roots in a style of Korean storytelling called Gut. This narrative technique presents the struggle between the real world and the world of the dead. The play also adopts the Korean tradition of Ohgugut, Younggam halmi. This is a performance style that uses masks to present the drama and the emotions of the characters.

The performance is divided up into seven different chapters. With Bujeon Gut (Bad Luck Gut) making way for Golmaegi Gut, before we conclude with Gil Ga Rum. These traditional phrases and stylings are presented on stage with dance pieces, song, drums, drama and mask play. The design of the masks range from the grotesque to the ridiculous and their use is inventive and very much in keeping with the fantastical tone of the play.

The story is of Binari concerns the supernatural and shamanism. We are presented with an evocative and exciting world that goes back in forth between reality and dreams. The result is a confusing and strange performance where anything can happen. The dialogue is delivered almost entirely in Korean with no super-titles. This is not a problem as the masks, music and physicality of the performers do enough to give the English speaking audience an understanding of the struggles of the characters. As with Kokdu, Binari is an entertaining performance, with lots of ideas and showcases how innovative and diverse traditonal Korean performance can be.