Unorthodox ensemble to bring ‘L’Appartement’ to life on stage

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Sept 20, 2017 - 17:27
  • Updated : Sept 20, 2017 - 17:42

Theater director Ko Sun-woong is a man predicted to be unpredictable; it is not often you see a re-creation of a classic morality tale featuring aliens, like in Ko’s version of “Heungbuga.”

For the theatrical remake of 1996 film “L’Appartement (The Apartment),” Ko chose film and TV actor Oh Ji-ho and ballerina Kim Joo-won to play lead characters Max and Lisa. 

Kim Joo-won (left), Ko Sun-woong (center) and Oh Ji-ho pose for a photo after a press conference at LG Arts Center in Seoul last Tuesday. (Yonhap)

“Translating the movie version of Lisa’s charm into dance would be more suitable to a stage adaptation. ... Kim’s version of Lisa will be more attractive than the movie,” Ko said during a preproduction press conference Sept. 12.

The French film was directed by Gilles Mimouni and starred Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci and Romane Bohringer. It follows the story of bohemian writer Max -- played by Cassel -- and the complicated relationship intertwining him, his former love Lisa and another female character, Alice.

Constant flashbacks are used in parallel to the native to explain the complexity of their relationships, which Ko acknowledged could be an obstacle for a stage adaptation.

“Movies can freely (tell a story) through flashbacks, but plays are limited in those terms. But a play’s advantage is that it can show various people and situations in one area,” said Ko, who famously thinks outside the box in his stage adaptations.

As indicated in casting a dancer as the female lead, dance will be a crucial part of the play.

“All the actors will be dancing, not just me. My previous performances have been focused on dancing, but here it is used to help propel the narrative,” said Kim Joo-won. “We’ve just started rehearsing, and I myself am excited at how it (the play) will look like.”

Kim is not the only one getting the jitters on stage. Male lead Oh is a veteran on small and big screens, but “L’Appartement” will mark his stage debut.

“At first, I was 70 percent sure I would have to decline the role. But then I met Ko and we talked, which led me to think that I wanted to do the play,” he said.

Oh said he feels the pressure of reprising an iconic role.

“I’m not sure I can surpass his performance, but maybe I’m better looking than him,” he jokingly said. “I do think I can show various sides of the character.”

Perhaps the pinnacle of the plot’s convoluted nature lies within Alice, played by Kim So-jin. She has left lasting impressions on audiences in mostly supporting roles in films, most notably playing a hard-nosed, righteous prosecutor in box office hit “The King.”

“Alice is an intricate character who ends up hurting friends and loved ones through deception, which ends up hurting her as well. I wanted to express the subtle emotions explored by Alice in the original film,” she said.

“L’Appartement” will be presented at LG Arts Center from Oct. 18 to Nov. 15. Tickets are between 30,000 won and 50,000 won, and can be purchased via LG Arts Center or Interpark. Admission is restricted to those aged 17 and over.

The play is to be staged at 8 p.m. weekdays, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. There are no shows on Mondays.

By Yoon Min-sik