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French Date

Posted March. 03, 2006 09:10,   


What do stage musicals and blind dates have in common? You wonder who’s in them, a second meeting depends on the first, and expectations should be as low as possible.

The French musical “Le Passe-Muraille” that is playing in Korean theaters for the first time is exactly like a much-anticipated blind date.

Based on the famous novel by French author Marcel Ayme, the piece has a solid foundation, a fancy resume thanks to France’s honorary Moliere Award for best musical choreography, and the romantic music of Michel Legrand, known for his movie soundtrack, “Les Parapluies De Cherbourg.”

Dutilleul is an average government bureaucrat who suddenly possesses the power to walk through walls one day. The story focuses on Dutilleul, who falls in love with a prosecutor’s wife while using his powers to rob a jewelry shop to help the needy.

As you can see from the fantastic notion of walking through walls, logic doesn’t matter very much here. The fun of this piece is in its buoyant characters. Each of the dozen characters that appear has his or her own song, emphasizing the play’s supporting roles.

When the musical first ran on February 28, the 10 supporting actors were well-deserving of the round of applause they received for their superb acting. The old lawyer played by Kim Seong-gi was especially eye-catching. After telling his tale, he delivers his line, “So say I’m not guilty,” in slang so droll that the audience clapped and laughed.

Evoking laughter is left to the supporting roles; the main characters are responsible for conveying deep emotion. But on the show’s first day, Park Sang-won, who played Dutilleul, left room for improvement. Because of the quick lyrics, the audience was too busy trying to catch his words to catch his message. The duet between Dutilleul and Isabelle faltered, and his dying words, “I’m trapped in a wall and slowly hardening to death,” weren’t as powerful as they could have been.

Above all, Park failed to control the fluctuations of emotion in the show’s first performance. The lively performance of Eom Gi-jun who plays the other Dutilleul is much anticipated.

The show runs until April 2 on Tuesdays through Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays; and 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Sundays at the Seoul Arts Center. Tickets are 40,000 to 70,000 won.

Sue-Jean Kang sjkang@donga.com