Laundry is a chore that everyone does every once in awhile. It is a fact that laundry is a routine for housekeepers. Men who do not normally help their wives’ with housework also had done their laundry endlessly when they were in a military. Also, washing clothes which are scattered around is a tiresome duty for Hanyangians, living in rented room. In other words, laundry is a duty for everyone, so most people do not give any special thought to doing laundry.
However, 'doing laundry' in the musical Laundry is seen differently views from people’s general thoughts. The network of each character is connected to laundry and doing laundry brings new hopes after worries. With some moderate exaggerations, this musical describes 'laundry' as beauty. People, as soon as they are confronted with the title, start asking themselves: 'How would they narrate this hackneyed topic into a story?' After the show, those, who have asked themselves this question, realize the meanings of the title and the performance washes all the curiosities and assumptions away by 'Son-bballe.' Unlike recent "makjang(meaningless)" dramas, this musical “Laundry” invites the audience into another world.
“Seoul Is Bad, Isn’t It?”
Laundry deals with a neglected class of people. The story centers on a poor village in Seoul, which is said to be the village closest to the sky. People live through their daily lives by doing tiring labor. “Seoul is bad, isn’t it?” Na-young, the heroine of the musical, grumbles about her six-year Seoul life at her first meeting with Solrongo, the hero of musical. They have not been paid, and their bosses ignore them. Also, they each suffer from psychological trauma caused by the heartless world. For instance, Solrongo is an illegal immigrant from Mongolia. He is always threatened by his house owners and boss. But he is a slave of money although he does not want it.
However, they have two things in common. First is hope. Although they live in a poor village, people have a dream that they can live in a good house, and study freely. The people’s song in a bus shows their honest hope. “The reason we live is due to our useless hope. Like the shaking bus, we end up shacking off our lurking dream,” they sing.
Second is their strong caring for each other. They have sweet emotional love, and help each other if someone is having a hard time. Especially, the romance between Na-young and Solrongo makes the audience concentrate on the musical. “I think I cannot sleep tonight because of Na-young and Solrongo’s romance. They made such a sweet love although they are in a difficult situation,” Bae Hye-mi, one of the audience members said after the musical.
Bond of Sympathy, Laundry
The musical Laundry can be summarized in a word, ‘sympathy.’ The musical always wants to communicate with the audience and makes an effort to wash away the audiences’ old mental stains. The small theater where the musical is being performed is the optimum place to talk to each other. The theater, with 180 seats, can enjoy the performance and it gives a feeling of tidiness and coziness. In this place, actors make the best use of their abilities. In the seats which are changed like a stage, actors move around energetically, and they talk to the audience without hesitation. Also, audiences can join on the stage in a special scene, and have a chance to get the actor’s autographs. The mood during the musical is really freewheeling.
The sympathy is also reflected in the storyline. The background of the story is a village of minorities’ but the audience is impressed by the scenes such as the drinking at a Soju house and getting on the bus, which connects to the audiences’ lives. “I usually say Musical Laundry just covers inconvenient truth. In other words, inconvenient truth means tough lives that the audience suffers in these days. Life stories of the audience are not particularly different from our musical stories. This makes the audience impressed, and they also feel symphathy,” Lee Ji-ho, producer of the musical Laundry said.
In the musical, the characters are repeatedly neglected by their bosses, and are ignored by society, because they are just minorities. However, most of the stories go on energetically and cheerfully. This irony makes the audience concentrate on the musical. The laughing, shouting and crying of the audience are hectically coexisting during the performance. Lee Se-na, an actress who performed as a female employee said, “I think the audience can be comforted by our musical. They say ‘That is the word that I want to say,’ or ‘That scene is exactly the same as my situation.”
Laundry and Lives
As previously mentioned, washing clothes is a kind of channel to the characters’ meetings. Solrongo and Na-young meet while hanging their washed clothes. Also, Heejung’s mom and an elderly woman share their empathy during laundry.
Furthermore, the actors deliver their message of hope doing laundry. The characters say that they realize they are alive and they are so in love when washing their clothes. “Wring out your brokenhearted story, hang out your wet mind, then the winds will dry out your mind,” Warmhearted lyrics that express life and laundry give energy to the audience. These detailed songs and scripts are soaked through the scenes, and these caught all of the generations’ minds who live in our society. “Seeking my room was too difficult when I first arrived in Seoul. Seeing Na-young’s tough life, I felt many beginners who started to live in Seoul are reflected here,” Gu Song-a, a freshman of Sungkyunkwan University said after watching the musical. “I have to graduate this year, so I am always worried about my future. I think the characters’ laundry washed away my worries and they dried as a hope. It was a good chance to get hope,” Shin Hye-young, one of the audience members, said.
Owing to solid scenarios which give the audience a feeling of sympathy, the musical Laundry has been performing for the past five years, and over 130,000 people have watched the musical. Lee Ji-ho explained the reason of record; the statistics of the musical Laundry’s inspection shows that audience who watched the musical Laundry visit the theater once again. Lee added as a joke, “Do not watch musical Laundry. If you watch our musical, you would visit our theater again because it is too difficult to possess memories of the musical Laundry permanently. You will finally have thin purse. So, do not watch musical the Laundry.”
Also, the musical Laundry does not forget the communication with their audience. Na-young’s daily life grabbed the female audience members’ attention; especially the women who lived in Seoul in the year 2009. Actors and participants share their stories in that time.
Do you want to be comforted about your tough Seoul life? Do you want to see sweet romance with young lovers? Or, do you want to get hope from someone? Then, do the laundry. Then, you can feel laundry’s own freshness.