|Promotional image for “The Real Inspector Hound” (Kyle Johnson)|
Seoul Players takes a silly turn for its end-of-year performance, with “The Real Inspector Hound,” a comedy by Tom Stoppard.
The farce centers on a play within a play, with two pompous theater critics sent to review the play initially commenting from the sidelines ― sometimes more about themselves than the murder mystery they are supposed to be evaluating.
As the drama proceeds, the critics find themselves trapped in the action, and the boundary between the play’s onstage and offstage worlds is blurred in an absurd way.
“(The play) is light, but if you think about it, it is also dealing with some deeper issues,” said director Barri Tsavaris.
“It touches on themes of art and life and which is imitating which and also the relationships between theater and critics and the business of reporting on theater. And even the issues that the characters themselves are dealing with ― lost dreams and revenge and jealousy.”
The comedy gives similar amounts of stage time to most of the characters, which Tsavaris said was one of the reasons she chose the play.
“I’ve been involved with shows that are comedic and have a large ensemble cast, and they are just a lot of fun to be a part of,” she said.
“But also, having had some smaller productions this year that only had four or five people in the cast, we wanted to have more opportunities for more actors.
“I also have an affinity for this kind of irreverent, farcical theater of the absurd.”
But having eight people in main roles made the difficult timing that comedy requires harder to get right, and made it harder to work on fleshing out each character.
She said some actors had felt that the absurd caricatures in the play did not need character work, but she disagreed.
“I think no matter what the genre is, you have to apply the same work,” she said. “You want characters in a comedy to be just as rich as in a drama. I think that a comedy that didn’t go into that picky work would feel quite hollow.”
The play will be the last ever performance at White Box Theatre, which was set up by Probationary Theatre Company founders Liam Mitchinson and Desiree Munro as a dedicated space for English theater in Seoul. The theater is closing as the two are leaving Korea.
“I’ve known Des and Liam for a few years now and I have been in some of their shows,” said Tsavaris. “But it’s definitely bittersweet because the community is losing a great space, so I’m honored but I’m also a little sad.”
Tsavaris said that with Probationary Theatre Company leaving Korea, Seoul Players would continue to perform more plays with ensemble casts to ensure there were plenty of opportunities for expats who want to act.
“The Real Inspector Hound” runs on Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., on Dec. 14 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. Tickets are 15,000 won and can be reserved via firstname.lastname@example.org.
All proceeds from the early show on Sunday will go to the Philippine Red Cross to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
You can see a trailer for the show at www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5Dok7gVqTg.
By Paul Kerry (email@example.com)