Pros: Clever and funny without taking itself too seriously.
Cons: Over the top at times. The theme is perhaps a bit overdone.
Who doesn’t get a kick out of a little hyperbolic satire that riffs on cult classic film and TV, simultaneously ripping it apart and affectionately embracing its cheesiness.
King Chaos is your typical sci-fi comedy spoof complete with Star Wars theme music and the type of dialogue the actual characters in said original film and TV shows wish they could say to each other. You know the type, when the sidekick says to the lead Saver-Of-The-Universe, ‘When have I ever let you down?’ And instead of, ‘Never, you’re the best friend I’ve ever had’, the answer is ‘Always’ followed by examples, almost as if they were previous ‘episodes’. In fact, since these characters have appeared on stage before in previous plays by Steve Jordan, these lines do give the play a ‘sitcom’ feel.
The plot follows Tyler and Gary, members of the Federation out to not botch up yet another attempt to save the Universe from a genocidal war mongering ‘Syndicate’ complete with evil King and meddling henchman. Low and behold, however, the King has no brains, the henchwoman is running the show, and Tyler and Gary are just as rubbish at running the Universe as they are at saving it.
The script is funny enough, with a sort of nostalgic charm, drawing on a rather nineteen nineties style humour. It’s a specific sense of humour (read goofy), with the disadvantage of being rather predictable at times, if not slightly overdone too. All four performers Cliff Chapman, Adam Joselyn, Emma Stirling and Robert Dearn are strong in their roles and display a good sense of comic timing, working well off of one another to good comedic effect. This said, there are awkward moments that do come off somewhat amateur. Certain actors also seem to have an almost out-of-body experience in acting more serious elements of the script. These aren’t so much entertaining as they are odd, out of place and distracting. Fortunately neither of these elements overshadows a generally well-delivered and well-constructed piece.
The score, both borrowed and original, compliments the tone of the production perfectly as it tries to be ominous but instead adds to its absurdity, exaggerating the cartoonish quality of the show.
Staging, whilst a bit clunky at times, is reasonably effective on the small Tristan Bates stage and the larger-than-life character of the whole production actually does an excellent job of placing the audience into the world of the Syndicate vs the Federation. It’s a Looney Tunes world most of the time, but one that the audience is able to experience and enjoy nonetheless thanks to the lighting, mood music and occasional over acting.
A time capsule of a production; this is a fun piece perhaps mostly for the sci-fi minded, but is broad enough to get a chuckle out of anyone.
Author: Steve Jordan
Director: Steve Jordan
Producer: Steve Jordan & Ellen Gallagher for Bad Bat Productions
Booking Until: 15 August 2015
Box Office: 020 7240 6283
Booking Link: http://tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/king-chaos–camden-fringe-2015