Skip to main content

The King and I

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
If Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerrstein's much-loved 1951 musical
were to be pitched as a new work today, chances are it would be knocked
back at every turn. Devising a show about an eastern despot with a
dodgy human rights record and a fondness for American presidents who is
enlightened and educated by a prim English school-teacher, after all,
hardly sounds like the sort of feelgood fare to keep the nation's
post-war pecker up. Slavery, misogyny, bullying, spying and brutality
are all in the mix, and if there's anything happy about the ending,
it's that the King's death is for a more universal good.

Yet even at a Saturday afternoon preview performance of the newly
constituted Music and Lyrics consortium's touring restaging of Paul
Kerryson's original production for The Curve, Leicester, its
eye-poppingly clear just how inspired a yarn this is. The songs and
story are intact, with Ramon Tikaram and Josefina Gabrielle making a
handsome-looking cross-cultural couple, and a ten-piece orchestra in
full view at the back of Sara Perks' vivid set. Yet there seems
something very modern at play here, even as Kerryson and co look to
traditional theatrical forms in a near boutique fashion.

Shadow puppetry and gymnastic interludes frame each scene, adding to an
already sumptuous spectacle, while the singing during the second act
play within a play somewhat bizarrely and almost certainly
unintentionally recalls the vocals of Glasgow-based visual artist Sue
Tompkins in post-punk outfit Life Without Buildings a decade back. This
is a show that's full of heart and soul, which, as charming as it is,
also takes itself seriously enough to give those blinded by power their
come-uppance.

The Herald, December 19th 2011

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Martin McCormick – Ma, Pa and the Little Mouths

Family life is everything to Martin McCormick. The actor turned writer is having an increasingly high profile as a playwright, with his biggest play to date, Ma, Pa and the Little Mouths, opening this week at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow in a production in association with the National Theatre of Scotland as part of the Tron’s Mayfesto season. While his own domestic life with his wife, actress Kirsty Stuart, who is currently appearing in Frances Poet’s play, Gut, at the Traverse in Edinburgh, and their two children, sounds a hectic whirl of of juggling schedules, it is nothing like the world he has created for his play.
“I always knew it was going to be about two older people who’d experienced some kind of trauma and grief,” says McCormick, “but whatever it is that they’ve been through, it’s all in the background. They’re suppressing it, and there’s all this claustrophobia caused by all these suppressed emotions they’re going through while being stuck in this room. I guess all that came…