The Marriage of Kim K – Arcola Theatre, London

Lyrics: Leoe Mercer
Music and Director: Stephen Hyde
Reviewer: Karl O’Doherty

Musically and creatively ambitious, there’s some fine, brilliant moments shining through here but it’s a little too jumbled to be a classic.

tell-us-block_editedBased on the televisual habits of Stephen and Amelia (played by real life couple Stephen Hyde and Amelia Gabriel), the musical flits through scenes from Kim Kardashian’s reality TV show tracking her short lived marriage to Kris Humphries as well as a version of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Unable to tolerate each others viewing choices, Stephen and Amelia fall out, creating a rota for screen time as well as uncovering some simmering marital tension.

Mapping different hues of love and conflict over each other through each of the three almost concurrent streams certainly produces a colourful work. It’s imaginative, the storylines hold together as a concept and the ending is really well achieved, and very sweet.The set design (from Alexander Newton) too was intelligent – a triptych of mini-stages, one for each storyline and cleverly brought to life with the changing of the tv channel to each “show”.

That strong foundation isn’t capitalised on in the performance. Mixed sound levels from the live musicians (super evening from the Echo Chamber group) and competing vocals make it difficult to follow at times. While Emily Burnett and Nathan Bellis as the Countess and Count Almaviva from the Marriage of Figaro are on great form with powerful vocals and charismatic interaction – the same can’t be said for the other couples. Stephen and Amelia don’t come across as a warring, seething couple (so, that’s good, perhaps) so their fall out sparked by the TV just doesn’t ring true.

Completing the triple, Kim K and Kris (Yasemin Mireille and James Edge) are brash and irritating. Yes, of course, they’re famously so and the characters are based on that. In this case, it’s the performance, and who wants to be stuck in a room for an hour and a half with severely irritating people?

The music from Stephen Hyde is a bit of a treat though – mixing classical and modern musical styles it flows through changes in scene and context very smoothly. Dropping in references to tunes from Spice Girls, Estelle, The Who and more these are little nuggets in a strong musical base.

At an hour and 20 minutes, no interval, it feels snappy and tightly written. A super idea – rewritten from its initial debut. Interesting but not quite there.

Runs until 29 July 2017 | Image: Leon & Hyde


Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

A rocky marriage

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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