Miranda (Korean Stage Play)

Review of a mid-2000s Korean stage play that some may still search for

(Author’s Note: This article is for the very few expats and English-speaking Koreans, who were in South Korea in the mid-2000s, during this play’s run at the Top Art Hall theater in Seoul’s Deahangno theater district, and remember catching this play, and who probably landed here after a Google [Bing, Yahoo, whatever] search.)

MirandaEven if you can’t understand a word of Korean, Miranda (sometimes spelled “Milanda” since Korean English spellings sometimes use an “L” where there should be an “R” and vice-versa) shouldn’t be too difficult to follow. This play is tightly-based on the novel The Collector by John Fowels, which is a simple story of a man’s obsession with a beautiful girl. You know; the old “boy sees girl, boy becomes obsessed with girl, boy kidnaps girl, boy isn’t quite sure what to do with girl” story.

Miranda opens with a dream sequence; a completely darkened stage, and then you hear the string intro to the song “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” by the singing duo “Baccara” (a CD I had to run right out and buy after seeing this play). The lights come up right after the pounding drum beat comes in, and then the audience is treated to opening scene, which is a dream sequence in which we see the completely nude lead (well, only) actress’s backside through a very sheer veil that she holds high over her head and then lets fall to the floor. She then slowly moves over to the bed, where the male lead (and also only) actor lies face down. She then gently kisses him down his body and eventually gets on top of him a rides him until she collapses on top of him, both seemingly satiated. I won’t say that the rest of the play goes downhill from there, because it doesn’t, but the opening scene is the most erotic, by far.

Han Sae-bin
Han Se-bin in a candid moment on stage

After the male lead awakens from his dream, he speaks to himself aloud about his bad childhood and his passion of collecting butterflies (hence title of the novel this was based on). We also learn that he was a civil servant who won a lottery, bought a large house with the money, and now seems to occupy his ample free time obsessing about a beautiful art student named Miranda, whom he read about after she won a local art contest.

The only set in the play is that of a single room he built specially for his pretty captive. After a brief fade out following his opening soliloquy the next scene begins with him carrying Miranda, whom he kidnapped while she was on her way to school, into the room. After she begs to be let go, he tells her that she must love him, which she dismisses as the rantings of a madman. He calls her his red butterfly (which he keeps misspelling as “r-a-d”) as he also seems to have an obsession with that color. Miranda also mentions reading about him winning the lottery and tries to appeal to his sensibilities.

There are a couple of scenes that make an attempt at humor, and do manage to get a chuckle or two from the audience. One is where he hands her a pair of panties to put on, and when she takes them from him, they are tied to a long chain of panties, ala the clown’s handkerchiefs. Speaking of panties, he buys her some red lace undies that he insists she wear, thus fueling his obsession with her and the color. He gives her a chance to be set free, if she can answer a question correctly, which she does, but he suddenly decides it’s a two-part question. He ties her to a chair, beats her (but not severely), and eventually says he will release her in five weeks.

Cha Rin
Cha Rin is another actress who’s played the title role.

During this time, she tells him she will need some things to make her feel more comfortable, one of which is music. He agrees and gets he what she requests. (There’s a scene where she dances to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” that I wished would have continued longer.) Her captivity drags on and she eventually becomes ill and asks her captor to fetch a doctor. I won’t give away the ending if you haven’t read the book but if you have, well, like I stated, this play is tightly-based on the previously-mentioned novel, so you know how it ends.

The play runs about an hour and a half with no intermission, since the only set is the one sparse room of the kidnapper’s lair that includes a table, chair and a bed. The shower (Yes, there is a nice shower scene, but no real water.) is center rear stage. The audience is composed mainly of male-female couples in their 20s and 30s. With a smattering of female couples and groups, so don’t worry about this being a “dirty old man’s” type of play. The characters in this play are pretty well-defined, and there have been several actresses (and actors) who have filled the roles over the course of this play’s run, most notably Han Se-bin who has appeared in several adult magazines, and Cha Rin, whose assets have to be seen to be really appreciated. This was well worth the price of admission.

Han Sae-binHan Sae-bin
(Above and below) Han Se-bin from photo spread that ran in a 2004 issue of the Korean adult
magazine, BB (Beautiful Bust). The issue ran this spread as a promotion for Miranda and
even included coupons for a 20% discount off the ticket price.

Han Sae-bin

Miranda Actresses
Advertisement for Miranda featuring two more of the actresses who filled the title
role during the play’s extended run and the Top Art Hall theater.

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