The great ape has fascinated the world for years. From his first appearance on film in 1933 – complete with Fay Wray’s screaming – through to the Dino De Laurentiis version which substituted the World Trade Centre for the Empire State Building, and the subsequent versions, the primate resident of Skull Island has held a special place in the cinema going public’s heart. So, I was very excited to be asked to go along and see a theatrical version of King Kong at the Waterloo Vaults Theatre.
Notorious director Carl Denham (Bob Crouch) is heading off on an adventure. He has heard of a mysterious island where the locals worship a 100ft ape called Kong. Carl has found a boat, a captain (Sam Donnelly), a dashing – well sort of – first mate Jack Driscoll (Ben Chamberlain) and a crew, which includes Token Guy (Brendan Murphy). All he needs now is his star. After a series of false starts, Jack meets and selects the beautiful Ann (Alix Dunmore) to be his heroine. Now, with everyone on board, Jack and his team set sail to find Skull Island and confront its hairy inhabitant.
While writing the above, I have been trying to think of words to describe this production of King Kong. Various came to mind, such as mad, bonkers, surreal, hilarious etc. In fact, as I don’t want to give anything away, I’m not sure where to start in describing the production. I will say that you get a feeling for the type of show you are about to see when you take your seat and start listening to the pre-show music. Somebody has been busy finding every tune that can be connected to apes – either directly or indirectly. As well as the obvious, songs from the Monkeys themselves, there is The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana) and many more. It’s definitely worth having a listen as there were some great tunes in there.
Once the show starts, Rob Crouch’s Denham comes out and provides the audience with a brief overview of where we are and what his plans will be. Over the course of the next 80 minutes, we get the entire story of King Kong, and writer Daniel Clarkson has put together a finely written narrative that covers the narrative up to the, surprisingly poignant, moment on the top of the Empire State Building and its aftermath. With only five actors, the range of characters is reduced but there is still room for all of the main ones and also wonderfully funny ones like Token Guy, who everyone is expecting to die at any minute – rather like the guy in Star Trek that goes on his first landing party. Simon Scullion’s set and, at times pretty amazing props, really enhance the story and when added to Sophia Simensky’s costumes, Tim Mascall’s lighting and Sam Clarkson’s sound give Director Owen Lewis a wonderful palette on which to create the story.
Of course, this is a show that really rests on its cast and every one of them was really good. They are wonderfully energetic and given the amount they throw themselves about, obviously dedicated to the production. The pace is very fast with barely time to draw breath between elements. The writing is funny and the commitment is complete and the cast really deliver a first rate production. Some of the jokes are really well thought out whist others are some of the worst puns I’ve ever heard, but they all elicit a reaction – whether a laugh or a groan – and, at times they come so thick and fast that whilst laughing at one thing, you miss the next. A minor point to be sure in what is otherwise a superb and highly entertaining telling of the Kong story. Well worth a visit.
Southern Baptist Sissies
Above the Stag is a theatre that specialises in putting on LGBT+ shows. I’ve been there a couple of times previously and seen some very well produced and very funny plays about gay life. So, I was really looking forward to another visit last night to see their latest show, the European premiere of Southern Baptist Sissies by Del Shores.
This is the story of four people emerging from childhood and becoming adults. These boys are all from the great state of Texas – the ‘buckle’ in the bible belt – and all are regular attendees at their small town Baptist church presided over by a real old fashioned ‘wrath of God’ style preacher (Stephen Parker). The four boys are all really good friends who each bring something different to the group. So, there is preacher’s son Mark (Jason Kirk) the thinker, TJ (Daniel Klemens) the brawn, Andrew (Hugh O’Donnell) the introverted and…
The Chemsex Monologues at the King’s Head Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet
Some of you may have heard of an app called Grindr. It is a social app for gay men that enables them to chat and arrange to meet up. Okay, it may be a bit more than that but once again I must remember my mother reads these things. Anyway, if I was to download it and switch it on now, two things would become apparent very quickly. The first is that a lot of people take really bad photographs which seem to cut off their heads and the second is that the world is divided into those that say ‘chems OK’ and those that say ‘No Chems’. Being firmly on the ‘No Chems’ side, it is interesting to delve, if only briefly, on the other. Such an opportunity is available as Patrick Cash’s play The Chemsex Monologues makes a welcome return to the King’s Head Theatre in Islington.
As the title suggests, The Chemsex Monologues are a series …
https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/185309/review-the-busy-world-is-hushed-finborough-theatre/ Michael James and Mateo Oxley – Credit Scott Rylander
Let’s start this review off with a quote “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.” If you aren’t sure where this is from I will let you know at the end of the review. However, this quote get’s nicely to the central crux of Keith Bunin’s play The Busy World is Hushed which is having its European premiere at the Finborough Theatre.
Hannah (Kazia Pelka) is a happy Episcopalian minister and widow. She is working on a book about a recently discovered gospel which may predate the ‘famous four’ – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – and, if the dates work out correctly, may have been written just after the death of Jesus. Like many academic types, Hannah is really enthralled by her work but dreads the thought of writing it out, so she is interviewing Brandt (Mateo Oxley) for the position of gh…