A gireogi appa (Korean: 기러기아빠, literally “goose dad”) is a South Korean man who works in Korea while his wife and children stay in an English-speaking country for the sake of the children’s education.
Hansol Jung’s new play, Wild Goose Dreams is touching, informative, smart, well-acted and directed. It tells of the world of profound loneliness, that is lost in a suffocating social media’s domination of ones and zeros. A co-production between The Public Theater and La Jolla Playhouse, we find an unlikely modern love story inter-spliced with the cold unfeeling world of internet technology versus the fight between South and North Korea’s political crisis.
The play starts off with a fable told by an older gentleman (Francis Jue). “Once upon a time, there was an angel,”he tells us. What he is really is if given wings, would someone angelic choose family over the idea of flight and freedom. Taking into account that Hansol Jung’s compelling new play, Wild Goose Dreams takes place near the border that separates North and South Korea, survivor guilt, shame, and a deep sense of compassion aren’t too far away from that chilly river where the naked angel stands quietly looking for a rescue or a return.
Leigh Silverman’s direction is dynamic, whimsical, and inventive, keeping your attention through this map of technological disarray. Clint Ramos’s neon set with digital messages works perfectly with sound designer Palmer Hefferan’s design making this show visually stunning. There is some wonderful work by composer Paul Castles and Korean music composer Jongbin Jung. All the work by movement director Yasmine Lee, costumes designer Linda Cho, and lighting by Keith Parham help to enhance this production.
Francis Jue is humorous and moving in the beginning monologue. Michelle Krushiec and Peter Kim both have chemistry and give layered complexed portrayals. We feel for their plight, in a small way we have been in their lonely cocoons. Lulu Fall, Joél Pérez, Kendyl Ito, Jamar Williams, and Katrina Yaukey are vocally perfect and add to the overall enjoyment of the piece.
Hansol Jung’s work is powerful, with quick shifts and so multi-layered you have to let his words roll over you like waves of water.
I found this piece delightful, poignant, and poetic. We all need to look at how the art of communication is being lost in this technological decade.