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Spray, Assembly Roxy (Central) – Review

Spray is Terry Gillian's Brazil meets Winding Refn's The Neon Demon, a swing-fuelled dystopian world conceived by award-winning Korean director Park Cheong-euy. It is a morbid social satire where work is the main reason for living, personal relationships are awkward, and crime becomes a leisurely activity for repressed citizens. Instigated by both boredom and the neighbour's cat that refuses to let him sleep at night, a luxury shoe store manager (Lee Sang-hee) begins stealing packages meant for other residents of his apartment block. Inebriated by a newly discovered thrill, his ungodly pastime unavoidably gets out of hand as the…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

A weird and wonderful social satire revolves around a lonely shop manager from Seoul and his ungodly pastime. This is a visionary look into the isolation of modern city life.

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Spray is Terry Gillian’s Brazil meets Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon, a swing-fuelled dystopian world conceived by award-winning Korean director Park Cheong-euy. It is a morbid social satire where work is the main reason for living, personal relationships are awkward, and crime becomes a leisurely activity for repressed citizens.

Instigated by both boredom and the neighbour’s cat that refuses to let him sleep at night, a luxury shoe store manager (Lee Sang-hee) begins stealing packages meant for other residents of his apartment block. Inebriated by a newly discovered thrill, his ungodly pastime unavoidably gets out of hand as the body count starts growing and he finds himself in a sticky situation.

Despite being pushed beyond the boundaries of plausibility, Spray still shows unsettling similarities with our way of living; the hatred for a noisy neighbour we’ve never met, dating being a formally agreed set of conventional rules, bad news pouring out of media outlets without causing the smallest reaction and shrinking egos swallowed by ever-expanding cities where individuals are nothing more than a number.

Brightly coloured Mondrianesque backgrounds overlap with mesmerising 3D projections. Bodies arching, twitching, bending in unnatural plastic poses are perfectly choreographed in cartoonish ensemble movements that produce stunning visual effects. Meanwhile, the recorded voice of the main character talks to us in Korean, narrating like entries of a journal and translated in English with the help of surtitles. Not only a necessity, this language barrier adds to the oddity of this numbing show, highlighting the hardship to connect with others through straightforward communication.

Because of the strong technical element, the performance suffers slightly from the temporary nature of the venue, with such an elaborate set being taken down every day and put back up in a tight turnaround. It’s safe to say that, with its impressive attention to detail and flawless direction of the eight-strong cast, this dark comedy will thrive even better in a permanent structure.

Original Author: Kim Kyung-wook
Adapted by: Park Cheong-euy
Director: Park Cheong-euy
Producer: Cho-in Theatre Company – Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd
Booking Information: This show has completed its current run.

About Marianna Meloni

Marianna Meloni
Marianna, being Italian, has an opinion on just about everything and believes that anything deserves an honest review. Her dream has always been to become an arts critic and, after collecting a few degrees, she realised that it was easier to start writing in a foreign language than finding a job in her home country. In the UK, she tried the route of grown-up employment but soon understood that the arts and live events are highly addictive.