Musical proves the power of Les Misérables
In many aspects, Les Misérables is a standard musical. Based on Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Misérables refuses to be overwhelmed by the length of its original literature and condenses hundreds of pages of its text into song. It does not dodge the novel’s heavy theme of revolution, but embraces historical consciousness and makes a deep impression. While the epic story involves several characters, all of them are memorable.
Of all the actors, Yang Joon-mo, who plays the role of Jean Valjean, shines the brightest. He brings a sense of candor to his character. This honesty is best depicted in his moving rendition of “Bring Him Home,” which is worth anticipating throughout the show. The other supporting actors also did a great job. Park Joon-myeon plays the role of Madame Thénardier, who represents a selfish, mean working class woman, and she definitely had a strong stage presence. Park Ji-yeon’s Éponine grows even more poignant with every performance.
The video images that are incorporated into the performance serve as a form of narration that adds some movement to the show. The transitions between one set to another flowed quickly and thus, the show’s entire flow was tight. The lighting was also used in quite an effective way. During the scene in which the citizens are slaughtered one by one, the light was used to depict the gunshots, which served to strengthen the impact and effect.
Throughout history, society has never treated the less fortunate kindly or fairly. Life is always harder for those who have nothing and this results in their being even more downtrodden. But the characters in Les Misérables refuse to view life this way.
It is often said that classical literature serves as a mirror that reflects the condition of our lives and world back to us. We are surrounded by those who are young, afraid and lost, as well as people whose dreams have been shattered by the cruelty of life. There are some mourning over their friends next to “empty chairs and empty tables.” Thus, the lives portrayed in Les Misérables are the ones who lived through the social uprising of the French Revolution and at the same time, they are all of us who are living right here, right now.
By Jeong su-yeon (Adjunct professor, Theatre and Cinema, Hanyang University)