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Reviewed by:
  • A Fairy in the Walldir. by Sohn Jin-chaek
  • Alyssa Kim
A FAIRY IN THE WALL. Directed by Sohn Jin-chaek. Korean script by Pae Sam-sik. Music composed and directed by Kim Cheol-hwan. Premiered at the Wullim Cheongdam Theater. 1006– 2407 2005.

A Fairy in the Wallwas performed by Kim Sung-nyo, an accomplished performer who became synonymous with the unique Korean theatre genre of madangnori. 1Although the production was an adaptation of a Japanese solo musical play, it was able to appeal to a large audience by revising the script to the Korean cultural and political context and also by incorporating different theatrical elements from the traditional Korean theatre. However, the success of the play could not have been possible without the superb performance by Kim, who sang twelve songs and played thirty-two different characters in the one-actor musical play.

A Fairy in the Wallwas part of a drama series of six plays in 2005, conceived and organized by PMC Production Company and all performed by women. 2The success of the series relied on the ticket power of the six veteran actors who had their ardent fans, mostly women in their forties and fifties who had attended performances by these actresses before. Although each production enjoyed almost a full house for every performance, the plays in the series have been restaged only once or twice since 2005.

An exception to that was A Fairy in the Wall. Unlike other productions in the series, which were adaptations of European scripts or plays, A Fairy in the Wallwas an adaption of a Japanese play, Kabenonakanoyousei(壁の中の妖精), about a Spanish man who spent thirty years hiding in the wall for his involvement with the communist party during the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to [End Page 566]1939. This highly popular play, which was performed more than three hundred times in Japan, was written by Fukuda Yoshiyuki and premiered at San Moru Theater in Tokyo in 1993.

The Korean adaptation has also been performed more than 260 times since its premier in 2005, including its performance in Los Angeles in 2007, and at the OWL SPOT Theater in Japan in 2009. It earned multiple accolades, including the Best Drama Award of the Critics Association, the Best Performance Award of Dong-A Ilbo, and the Best Drama Award of the Year of Arts Council Korea. The production celebrated its tenth year anniversary by restaging it at the Myeongdong Theater in Seoul in February 2014, and it is scheduled to be performed in different cities in Korea as well as in Shanghai.

Unlike the original Japanese performance, which stayed in the context of the Spanish Civil War, Pae Sam-sik, the writer of the Korean version of A Fairy in the Wall, changed the setting to a small town in Korea, and the story begins with a little girl who hears a sound from the wall. Her father, who has been hiding inside the wall, tells her that he is a fairy and that he will protect her. He also teaches her a Russian folk song, “Ponizovaya Volnitsa” (Volga Freemen), about Stenka (Stepan) Razin. Hearing the girl singing “Stenka Razin,” the mother becomes terrified and furious at her husband for teaching her the song when soldiers are looking for anyone associated with communism after the Korean War, which took place from 1950 to 1953. At this point, the play goes back to the time before the war, when the husband and wife met and fell in love. After getting married, the college-educated husband teaches his illiterate wife how to read and write, and he also gives away the family-owned land to tenants. When the war breaks out, the husband is branded as a communist, and the wife decides to hide him inside the wall. The first part of the play ends with Kim singing the song “How Beautiful It Is to Be Alive.”

Even after the war ends, the country continues to be divided by ideology, and the husband has no choice but to watch his little girl grow up from inside the wall. Finally, the daughter gets married...