Review-Vinalon-Not So Loud


by Justine Denning


Before the review begins, let me introduce Vinalon. Vinalon, as the play informs you, is a synthetic fibre developed in North Korea in 1939. Although hailed by the bureaucracy as a 'miracle creation', it is often viewed as difficult to work with and consequently only produced in North Korea.


The production factory of Vinalon is the play's location, the setting is modern day and the intriguing concept, a glimpse of North Korean life, is a rarity in modern story telling. The play does not disappoint.


Located upstairs at the Fringe Club, the decoration is sparse and simplistic as is the clothing worn by all cast members, consistent with the militaristic impression North Korea has revealed to the world. As the audience enters, we are introduced to real North Korea music, praising Vinalon and its creation, making it easy to forget we are still in Hong Kong.


Mun Soo-jin, as played endearingly by Sophia Zhang, is a new staff member in the Vinalon factory, her selection for this position shrouded in mystery... and deception is at the heart of this play. Vinalon is the symbol of deception itself, the play's characters forced to work daily in the production and promotion of this worthless fabric, and it is fascinating to watch those characters question the system they unfortunately find themselves born into.


Gwon Dong-hyun, played by Sui Loon Leung, is one such character who rejects the worship of this 'miracle fibre'. An educated scientist, hiding secrets from his seniors and exposed to the outside world through items smuggled in from China, we feel Gwon Dong-hyun's frustrations. Sui Loon Leung is a highly capable performer and he is a natural in this role.


The powerhouse performance is that of Nina Kwok who plays Gang Jung-hee; she is electrifying and captivating in her role. Frustrated by the system and smuggling in products from abroad, we fear for her safety, understand her anger and are thankful for many of the scenes she is in. Nina Kwok delivers confidently and believably - a stand out performance.


Not to be forgotten are Han Shih Toh who plays Lee Sang-hoon, Austin Tay who plays Nam Young-jin and Daniel Kim who plays the simpleton Ryu Jin-ho. As senior members of staff, you can believe that between them they have many secrets - and the play reveals them all.


Daniel Kim has a role for laughs as the naive ex-military man; some jokes were missed in the mix of dialogue but with confidence and a pinch more commitment to his own characterization I believe Kim could capture them all.


Austin Tay is the villainous force of the narrative as the cunning and manipulative party official. He has done well to create a believable and relatable villain. He is reminiscent of that one suck-up staff member we all have in the office.


Lee Sang-hoon has an important part to play in the lives of many and the weight of this character is felt in his sincere exchanges and warped sense of reality under the North Korean government.


Vinalon is certainly an interesting watch, one with many intriguing characters; the story itself is balanced in strong and weak moments and you will be highly entertained until the end.


Vinalon has now closed. For more information, click here.

Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: ---


No comment at the moment.

Post New Comment