Fringe Review: At That Time, Byeon

Megan Amato reviews At That Time, Byeon at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

SOMETIMES when you walk into an Edinburgh Fringe show, you immediately understand that you are about to be in for a wild ride, and that was my initial impression upon entering the room to actors in comedic face make up with haphazardly drawn moustaches and two heads of romaine lettuce on the floor.

My initial reaction wasn’t off. The audience was taken on a delightfully chaotic journey with an arc filled with all the right ingredients to make it thrilling: illicit trysts, power and class dynamics, and – of course – murder. Based on the real-life homicide of Byeon, a Korean maid working for a Japanese socialite and her Korean husband during the Imperial Japanese occupation of Korea, our host introduces the story and characters with the right amount of wry humour.

Light and shadow were used to effectively induce different feelings. I was impressed by how creative the team was with sound effects, making distinctive noises using their throats and bodies, recorded tracks and items around them to construct a dynamic atmosphere. I finally found out what the lettuce was for as at one point as one of our actors beat it with a stick into a microphone during a fight.

Despite the campness of the acting and the frantic chaotic nature of the show, the comedic timing from each energetic actor was immaculate. Their facial expressions were spot-on from the cleverly minute changes to the overstated moments of comedic transformations. Special note to the actress who plays maid Maria/Byeon – her shift between demure maid to almost-manic mistress-to-be had me routing for her throughout the show despite her obvious outcome.

Full of exaggerated humour reminiscent of the 1930s, Haddangse’s At That Time, Byeon is well worth a watch if you are a fan of Cluedo-style murder mystery mixed with a little Korean history.


Find out more about the show at https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/at-that-time-byeon

Read more reviews on Scottish Field’s Fringe pages.

Plus, don’t miss the September issue of Scottish Field magazine.