Alright, so I admit that my intention in seeing this play is not anything remotely artistic. It’s very much in the spirit of fangirlism.
There are 3 Young Flower Boys who own the flowerboy-loving territory of my heart. They are Kim Hyunjoong, Lee Seunggi, and Jung Ilwoo. I swoon, scream, and squeal for these boys. I was hoping that during my stay here, I would at least get to see these 3 guys. I saw Hyunjoong in action already, and today was dedicated in full to see the awesome Jung Ilwoo.
Beautiful Sunday is the one play that was already in my list to see even before I arrived in Korea. I already heard of the news that Jung Ilwoo would be doing a play long before and had already made it a point to go, to hell with language barriers and all. Thankfully, I was able to coax a Korean friend to come with me so she could translate the play, hopefully live. I was planning to go but I did feel a little stupid if I was to go to the play alone and end up not understanding everything.
But anyways, let me give a little summary of the play. The play is set on a Sunday, a sunday that change the lives of 3 people: Jungjin, Eunwoo, and Joonsuk. On a Sunday morning, Jungjin finds himself in bed with a female stranger, Eunwoo and freaks out. Eunwoo used to live at the place and due to an incident, drunkenly came there last night. She is a pretty colourful personality (reads: quirky and a little psychotic, lols). Jungjin lives with his younger ‘lover’, Joonsuk. Notice that I put lover in apostrope. Joonsuk is as gay as the day and he’s contracted with HIV, yet Jungjin is clean. So theirs is a relationship that is devoid of sex, but filled with much love all the same.
Jungjin however, receives a call from his mother that she would visit today. This puts Jungjin in an even more anxious position as he has not told his mother about Joonsuk. Coincidentally, today is the 3rd anniversary of when Jungjin and Joonsuk started living together and they are holding a party. During this party, secrets are revealed and we will see if these 3 people can get their happy endings.
I went to the play only with the knowledge that Jung Ilwoo’s character is gay and is with AIDS. But surprisingly, I could actually understood most of the play. Some dialogues were totally out of my reach, and some I could only gather the gists. But they weren’t using difficult languages, so it was easier to understand. The volume and enunciation were good even though they were speaking a little fast sometimes. Plus, in all fairness, the storyline is pretty simple and it flows well so it wasn’t hard to understand.
The play itself was in a small theatre. I’m not exactly a play go-er and the only other play I’ve watched is a broadway play and comparing the 2 would be unfair. The venue is really small, probably only 200 people tops and there is only one backdrop that is used throughout the play. But because the play is about the happenings of one day, it made sense. I thought the play was pretty good. It infused a lot of humour and despite a heavier issue being brought up, the vibe was lighter. It was actually funny and had a lot of hilarious moments. It’s great that the play didn’t take itself too seriously. Another thing I liked was that because there were only 3 actors, it felt really personal, like it was really about 3 real people retelling their story.
With the comedy, it doesn’t mean that the play can’t be emotional when it calls for it. This is where I felt the language barriers the most. I could only get the gist of what was being said, but it’s the beauty of the words that really engages your emotions. People cried. But I was sitting there, frustrated at my inability to understand.
Alright, now I’ve done my dues talking about the play, I shall proceed to the fangirl-ing.
It’s too bad because picture taking is only possible when the actors do their last bow. It was only for less than one minute and people were clicking their camera like crazy. My camera was freaking slow and is nowhere near the fantastic SLR quality. So pretty much all my pictures are fuzzy and blurry like the one below. Sigh.
But Jung Ilwoo was so cute. The moment he came out, the girls were literally squealing. He’s tall, fair, and oh so handsome. I didn’t think he was gonna be that….breathtaking, but even my friend didn’t expect him to be that good looking. And people, the next scene was him being shirt-LESS! Again, I didn’t think there was gonna be one, but hell yeah, thank you very much. He’s not the most muscular guy, but compared to when he did Return of Iljimae, he is more built now. I was sitting next to 4 huge fans of Jung Ilwoo and they literally SCREAMED when he came out without his shirt on, lols. It was all fine and dandy but then the bitch right next to me actually won a lottery for a gift. GRR.
I can see why Jung Ilwoo fits for this role. He has been noted for his pretty face in the past and with his posture and overall looks, he IS in the Flower Boy category. I don’t know if this is something he studied for the character Joonsuk, but his mannerisms during the play felt feminine as well. I’ve seen some non acting videos of him and he does gives off that happy go lucky harmless vibe, but I would think that some unfamiliar viewers would wave him off as being too girly. Which works, in the context of this play.
I know I’ve said Flower Boy at least twice here. But I think Jung Ilwoo is definitely moving away from that image. He can’t help it if he’s a pretty guy, but I admire how he takes his work really seriously. Without looking at his acting skills, his short resume already has some diverse characters. In this stage play, he’s a cheerful and innocent gay guy. This is in contrast with his previous roles. Iljimae in Return of Iljimae was intense and flawed and I thought, sexy as hell. Taeyoon of disaster drama My Fair Lady was the epitome of perfect guy.
The fact that he chose to act in a stage play instead of in front of cameras is something interesting as well. With cameras, actors are still helped by camera angle, lighting, music, etc to convey emotions. But in stage plays, you gotta connect with your audience right there and then. The play had minimal music and lighting, so it was virtually the actors that were responsible for impressing the audience. Jung Ilwoo talked about feeling awkward acting right in front of audience and to tell you the truth, as a viewer, I felt somewhat awkward as well in the first half an hour or so. But the actors were able to draw me from that initial awkwardness and it was a really enjoyable ride.
I wondered about the extent of Jung Ilwoo’s popularity in Korea. I don’t have a clear picture, but I think that while he’s not the most popular or the most good looking, Jung Ilwoo’s got a solid popularity. So for him to choose to act in a small venue every single day for almost 2 months shows that he is serious about this thing called acting. His acting still needs work, there’s still stiffness issue, IMO, but I am sure he’s getting there slowly.
Jung Ilwoo, right now, might not break grounds with his characters, but he’s already shopping around and looking for more challenges. Who knows, he can be the next Kang Dongwon if he keeps up.
The play is wrapping up this Sunday. As of now, tickets for the last show are sold out, even for the Friday and Saturdays there are only a few left. I want to go see it again, but yeah, I currently don’t have a money growing tree.
Some more pictures:
And last, as I bow out: