Pros: A talented young cast keep up the energy and pace in this lively show.
Cons: Imagine watching 90 minutes of marital strife. Then triple that.
Kim Kardashian and Mozart’s lives have, no doubt, little in common. Except, perhaps, in affairs of love and marriage. The Marriage of Kim K, which opened this week at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston as part of their Grimeborn festival, ahead of showing at the Edinburgh Fringe this August, fuses stories of the two individuals in this ambitious, enjoyable musical.
The conceit is as follows: Amelia, a young lawyer, and her husband Stephen, an aspiring playwright (played by real life couple Amelia Gabriel and Stephen Hyde) have very different tastes when it comes to TV. She indulges in Keeping Up with the Kardashians; he prefers Mozart. While they squabble over the remote control, they are flanked on stage by their preferred couples: Kim and her husband of 72 days, basketball star Kris Humphries on their right, and Count and Countess Almaviva from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro on their left. Throughout the 90 minute show, all three couples sing themselves into marital strife, and in some cases out again.
If this sounds like a lot to take in, it is. While the three individual plots stand on rather wobbly ground, the show’s overall density, pace and wit shine bright. The musical numbers, while not being particularly memorable, switch speedily from pop to electronic to opera, though Mozart’s arias clearly outshine the rest. The cast does a fine job, in particular James Edge, who clearly relishes his role as dumb cheery Kris, and Emily Burnett, whose singing voice is a delight. Unfortunately, the lyrics were often trumped by the music (played by a small chamber orchestra above the stage), which made understanding the characters quite hard – a shame, because what I did hear was good fun.
In the end, the three narrative strands fuse together even further, when Amelia and Stephen’s observed couples turn on them to watch their relationship tether at the brink of TV preferences, and then miraculously end up just fine. The Marriage of Kim K, as the title suggests, doesn’t go particularly deep, but it is a lively romp through several centuries of music and marriage.
Author: Leo Mercer
Composer: Stephen Hyde
Director: Stephen Hyde
Box Office: 020 7503 1646
Booking Link: http://www.arcolatheatre.com/event/marriage-kim-k/
Booking Until: 29 July 2017