Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Leodo: The Paradise, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Kelly Apter.
Inspired by ancient shamanic rituals, this colourful and exuberant show from Korean song and dance ensemble Maro grows in appeal with each passing minute.
An on-screen introduction tells us that the people of Jeju believe in a paradise island called Leodo – a place where all those who are lost at sea end up. Or so it’s hoped. In order to get them there, three shamans carry out a series of rituals to aid the soul’s safe passage from here to nirvana.
The soul in question is a young woman, and it’s her journey we follow as she travels over the sea. A small boat bobs across the stage on a billowing white sheet, before plunging underneath as the material is ripped in two. And so it’s time for the shamans to get to work, with each one proving more life-affirming (in the face of death) than the last.
The young woman moves beautifully, as the shaman devoted to song accompanies her, bringing a definite contemporary flavour to this traditional show. The shaman for dance arrives wearing a bright red gown, shaking large wing-like pom-poms of flowing white paper around her body. But it is the shaman for drums who really gets the celebrations started. Her incredible dexterity has us all spellbound as she whips the stick from top to bottom of her drum, in a blur of hands and wood.
All of this is backed by three other musicians who join together for Leodo’s crowd-pleasing finale. Those wearing sangmos (long ribbons attached to their heads) whirl them with seemingly little effort, leading to the climax, when one performer unfurls the largest sangmo in town, hurtling it out in the audience before whisking it faster and faster around the stage.
Assembly George Square studios (Venue 17) until 30 August
Published in The Scotsman on 22 August 2015
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