Theater archives



Five Koreans with remarkable percussion chops pick up cleavers, brooms, and Day-Glo lariats in the course of this intermission-less romp, and fling onions, carrots, and cabbages with cheeky abandon. Four men and a woman create utter chaos in a restaurant kitchen, where they’ve been given an hour to assemble a banquet. Cookin’, a six-year-old enterprise that’s won awards in Seoul and has become the longest-running show in Korean performing-arts history, is a jolly fusion of Stomp, The Iron Chef, and a Jackie Chan epic. It features chefs juggling plates, root vegetables, and kitchen tools; also major acrobatic flips, serious noise, and a glorious mess. The show, every little kid’s dream come true, is still fun for grown-ups. What language punctuates the pounding on pots and pans is translated in supertitles, but you needn’t be a reader to get the gist, delight in the doo-wop, or cheer for the chefs as they take frequent breaks to drum during preparations for dinner. The plot, characters, even the moral take a backseat to the popularized version of samulnori, a complex polyrhythmic percussion originally developed by workers in Korean fields.