What occurs to you when you see the popular ad slogan "every woman has her own secret"? The drama "8 femmes" offers one idea: Women live in secrets to survive, please and reproduce.
A Korean drama version of the French film "8 femmes" (2002) directed by Francois Ozon is currently being staged at Theater Ida in Daehangno. The film was titled "8 femmes" to distinguish it from the 1972 play "Huit femmes"
Set in the 1950s in a rich country mansion, the drama begins with Suzon (Lee Young-yoon) returning home in the morning for the Christmas family gathering. She greets her wheelchair-bound grandmother Mamy (Lee Joo-sil); the cook, Chanel (Koo Hye-ryong); and her mother, Gaby (Lee Yeon-kyu). Suzon`s depressed aunt Augustine (Park Myung-sin) and her teenage sister Catherine (Bang Jin-ui) also come down to say hello to Suzon.
Their father Marcel is the only one still in bed. The new maid Louis (Jin Kyung) goes upstairs to check on him, and ladies in the living room soon hear fearful screaming of the new maid, saying the father has been murdered. They decide to call the police, but only to find out that they are trapped together in a house during a snowstorm, with phone lines cut and cars mysteriously broken.
Tensions run high, with each woman suspecting the next of being the killer. And in the course of the investigation each has a tale to tell and secrets to hide. While the seven ladies are busy accusing each other, the eighth, Marcel`s sister Perrette (Chung Jae-eun) arrives.
The drama resembles an Agatha Christie murder mystery. The characters are sympathetic and the audience is drawn into the story and discovering the identity of the culprit.
But the drama is more than a simple who-done-it. It deals with adultery, incest and lesbianism with comic elements added for good measure.
The cast add spice and vigor depicting the story of the eight women and their endless desire.
The Korean version has been toned down, and some parts of the original film have been deleted, such as telling the story of inappropriate relationship between the father and the daughter.
"Although the theme of the drama deals with the Electra complex, (I) wanted to show that the complex actually originated from women`s unique, powerful instinct to survive," said Hwang Jae-heon, producer of the Korean version of the French thriller.
"I wanted to examine how far or how much the women`s survival instinct can be brought into an action," added Hwang during a question and answer session after the premiere of the drama. Tripro, local production company plans to produce the musical version of the drama later this year.
The drama ends by revealing the truth of Marcel`s death, which goes beyond everyone`s expectation.
The 90-minute show tries to divert audience from their shock with the actresses dancing and laughing in joy in the end. But it is as if the director wanted to reflect the women`s instinct to preserve their life -- by burying their secrets beneath the smiles on their face.
"8 femmes" runs through Oct. 7. Tickets are 35,000 won to 45,000 won. For more information, call (02)-742-9005.
By Cho Chung-un