★★★

In this production, Lady Macbeth is the reincarnation of a Kumiho, a white nine-tailed fox, who desires to become human.

About Lady White Fox With Nine Tales combines Shakespeare’s masterpiece Macbeth with the oriental legend of the White Fox to create a dynamic and inventive retelling of the original stories.

YVUA Arts presents this spectacle as part of the Korean Season at the Edinburgh Fringe. About Lady White Fox With Nine Tales is written, directed and designed by Yveyi Yi. The Art Director and live painter is Dong Yeon Monica Lee.

Lady White Fox (Suwon Kim) has lived for 1000 years – for eight full lives – and has devoured 999 livers. In her last ninth life, she only needs the rare blue-blooded soul of a king in order to live as a human. She transforms into Macbeth, who hears the Three Witches’ prophecy of becoming king, and afterwards into Lady Macbeth, who commands her husband to murder the king. In cleverly constructed mirroring sequences, Macbeth (Chan Kim) becomes her reflection and thus, the conscience of Lady White Fox, who denied her humanity in the adapted Lady Macbeth speech. Nevertheless, the powerful Artist of the Darkness (Lee) is the one who pulls the strings behind the curtains: Lady White Fox is just a means to an end to finish her art composition, while the incarnated White Fox risks her life and furthermore her humanity to become human.

This performative extravaganza is performed by a dedicated and skilled cast and combines performance with masks, physical theatre, traditional Korean and German music, as well as live music and painting. The connection of the ensemble is outstanding as they work together to create detailed and synchronised dynamics on stage. Their agility and flexibility transcend the performers and open up the contours of established gender, power status and individuals to be connected, exchanged and transformed. The audience is invited into a world full of mystical obscurities – exorcism rituals, bizarre creatures and transformations – whose energy and presence are extended into the auditorium.

Even though About Lady White Fox With Nine Tales provides a clever and fresh twist on Shakespeare’s original story, a deeper investigation into the characters and storyline is missing. The innovative mirroring of the two performers as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is too rushed to resonate with the complex and layered portrayal of the original masterpiece. Therefore, the characters stay merely caricatures of an evil spirit without enough debating about the complexity of good and evil stereotypes. The Artist of the Darkness for example simply follows her evil plan without reflecting on her betrayal of Lady White Fox and without communicating her ambitions. Furthermore, Lady White Fox’s ambition to become human is not clarified enough either; why does she strive to be human when she is immortal and has magical powers? Therefore, it is essential that the audience of the Fringe have the chance to learn more about the White Fox legend in order to not only praise the quality of the performance, but also its storytelling.

About Lady White Fox With Nine Tales is a striking journey about the transforming self – the battle between oneself while becoming who we are instead of who we want to be. The Korean adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in combination with the lesser-known story of the White Fox (at least for the western audience) is a feast for the senses and definitely worth watching.

About Lady White Fox With Nine Tales is playing at Assembly George Square Studio Three as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 27 August. For further information and tickets, please click here

Photo: YVUA ARTS