Binari (3 stars)

This article is from 2016


Traditional Korean folk dance and rituals, taking the souls of the dead into the afterlife

This is a serene and mysterious crash course in Korean religious beliefs, led by a cast of seven, drumming, singing and dancing. Ohgugut is a ritual where a shaman comforts the soul of the dead before they enter heaven. Through prayer and exorcism, they banish bad demons and get rid of any 'lingering affection for this world' to ensure a smooth passage into eternity.

A large white origami boat symbolises the journey from this world into the land of the dead, and a four-eyed mask leads the funeral procession (it's worth reading the notes handed out in the queue before the lights drop, just to follow the basics). The mother character has a tough lot – two boisterous sons, a cheating husband, a couple of brushes with death, then a bumpy ride into the afterlife where she doesn't want to go.

With help from various plaintive and joyful Korean folk songs, the shaman helps her and her sons, left full of regret, process their feelings and transition into the next world. Expect a beautiful, if occasionally baffling, hour using glowing paper lanterns, low sung drones, traditional pungmul dance – where a drummer spins a long silk ribbon on his hat - and mask theatre to act out the fascinating ritual.

Assembly Hall, until 29 Aug (not 22), 12pm, £12–£13 (£11–£12).


  • 3 stars

MAC Theatre | Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd. A rare cultural occasion brought to the theatre: Korean shamanism engages communication with the heavens, played out on stage. This work compiles Halmi (Korean mask play), breaking the boundaries of tradition with a form of shamanic exorcism known as gut (pronounced…