OzAsia Theatre – Cuckoo – Jaha Koo – 4K

By Ben Watson



A beautifully vivid portrayal of the lifelong challenges tackled by South Korean born artist, Jaha Koo. Alongside his three Cuckoo-branded rice cookers (but otherwise a one-man show), Koo discusses the hardships faced by an entire generation of South Koreans following the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The production commences with the first rice cooker completing the cooking cycle. As steam escapes, the gentle aroma of cooked rice permeates the air, progressively grabbing the audience’s attention as the scent diffuses throughout the theatre.

The topic of suicide is a recurring theme throughout the performance, including intimate stories containing close friends, a brave tribute to his lost loved ones. As a multi-talented creative, Koo additionally provides a collection of self-composed music alongside his storytelling.

The rice cooker is employed as an extended metaphor for Koo’s generational problems faced as a young South Korean. Cuckoo rice cookers are common place among households in South Korea, known for their pressure cooking methods. Koo compares the people of his generation as individual grains of rice, hard and resilient until put under too much heat and pressure. The fluffed rice is personified as the South Korean youth, financially burdened by the actions of the South Korean government and their decision to accept undesirable IMF bailout conditions over 20 years ago.

A majority of the show’s spoken word was in Korean, proficiently accompanied by English subtitles overlaying the gripping visuals. As Koo engages in dialogue with two of his technologically advanced Cuckoo kitchen appliances, footage of violent South Korean protests and historically relevant political events are displayed.

Overall, the performance is engaging to all senses: mesmerising visuals, an original score and a unique interpretation of the economic consequences resulting from South Korea’s solution to the 1997 financial crisis.

As the show contains morbid themes of suicide, recommended to all mature audiences.   

Kryztoff Rating 4K

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