Set in that twilight zone-like period of the year when winter transitions to spring, "Early Spring, Late Winter" explores new realms of musical and dance theatre.
Vivid, hazy floral patterns float around on the dark canvas of the stage; huge rectangular structures are rearranged at will to create a minimal yet varied space.
Members of the Seoul Performing Arts Company, in eerie black and white makeup, display a wealth of talent as they prance around in a mixture of casual movement and modern dance, along to music that is at times traditional, electronic, orchestral and even folksy Western. They give heavy monologues, gracefully spin jars and even run around like children with stuffed animals in this diverse and often unsettling performance.
With no specific plot, the abstract piece weaves in and out of the present, past and future in an omnibus arrangement. All stories, however, revolve around the motif of plum blossoms ―flowers that bloom in the "early spring, late winter" season ― and how they signify different aspects of the human experience.
"On one hand, they are the first flowers to bloom in the spring, but on the other, they are the last to bloom in the winter," said artistic director Jung Hye-jin in a press conference.
"There is some kind of pain in that. The characters are constantly searching for the blossoms (in the performance) and we thought this process was similar to life itself."
Regarding the experimental plot structure, she added, "I've felt that in conventional musicals, one is bound to the text and thus unable to express (ideas) more freely. In this piece, I was able to unleash all impulses lying deep inside; it was liberating."
Choreographer Nam Soo-jung described the dance sequences as having "a new, challenging format that brings together dance, movement and acting."
Directed by Lim Do-wan and written by playwright Bae Sam-sik, "Early Spring, Late Winter" will run at the Arko Performing Arts Center on Daehak-ro, Seoul, from March 21-29. Ticket prices range from 20,000 won to 50,000 won. For inquiries, call (02) 3668-0007.