"Intriguing glimpse of Korea return"
by Diane Samuels for remotegoat on 25/02/09

A young woman arrives in Seoul and meets a young man in a bare room with an interpreter. Miso has an English second name, Blake, and wears white shoes, proving beyond doubt that she is an "Essex Girl". Her physical features suggest that she is Korean but she doesn't speak the language. She can barely bear to look at the young man, Han Som Kin, a cab driver with debts and heavies on his trail. The atmosphere is tense and the two argue. He leaves abruptly. She is distressed. This is clearly some kind of family matter.

In-Sook Chappel's "This Is Not Romance" won Soho Theatre's Verity Bargate Award for 2007. In Lisa Goldman's production the action slips seamlessly from the hotel lobbies and clubs of Seoul where girls dressed as cats or bunnies serve randy Western men to Han Som Kin's bedsit with piled up pans and mattress on the floor. Miso, a model past her sell-by date, played with a committed blend of daring and pent-up passion by Jennifer Lim, veers between these two worlds as she searches for who she is and where she belongs. Her quest compels her to reject, pursue, attempt to rescue and come intimately close to the brother she abandoned to live in England when they were young. Matthew Marsh is suitably sleazy as the married middle-aged business man from England who takes a shine to Miso and whom she offers to please in any way he fancies for the £3000 that would pay off her brother's debts. The deal falls through when her pain spills out and spoils the sexual game-playing. In many ways this piece, cursory and over-stated at times, bold and raw at others, is an evocation of a woman in her thirties who is consumed by her own childhood wounds, dislocated and alienated from herself, trying to find the courage to connect. Whilst it feels mechanical in parts the production does bristle with electricity and reveals a way of relating and making theatre that speaks in a different language, one that deserves a voice on the London stage.

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