Yet more new territory for Theatre Royal Bath’s intrepid Ustinov Studio to explore. Artistic director Lawrence Boswell has added Asia to his impressive roll call of international theatre with Wild Goose Dreams, South Korean author Hansol Jung’s unconventional love story for the digital age.
Direct from a successful off-Broadway run, it mixes awkward courtship with social satire, linked by a hyper-active Greek chorus tasked with imitating the mechanics of the internet. Boswell has attracted former RSC company director Michael Boyd to the Ustinov for the fourth time, to guide an international cast through a tender and eventually tragic storyline.
American-based actors London Kim (Guk) and Chuja Seo (Yoo) play a lonely South Korean, whose wife and daughter have emigrated to America, and a young North Korean defector struggling with the decision to leave her father behind. Both emotionally fragile, they meet on an online dating site, only to discover, as so many before them, that the chilling effect of social media can be a formidable barrier to intimacy.
The contemporary theme is powerfully brought home by Boyd and his eight players, staying just shy of being overwhelmed by both the internet babble and Yoo’s bizarre hallucinations, which at one stage even involve a rather terrifying penguin.
Kim and Seo are at their best handling the gentler side of their star-crossed romance, in contrast to Rick Kiesewetter’s compelling performance as Yoo’s raucously unpredictable father. Jean Chan’s box-like set, however, is a little thin on the technical glamour of the virtual world.