Music: Stephen Hyde and W.A. Mozart
Lyrics: Leo Mercer
Writers: Stephen Hyde and Leo Mercer
Director: Franciska Ery
Reviewer: Sam Lowe
Who would have thought Mozart would suit eyeliner? Yes, tonight is The Marriage of Kim K. Musical meets Googlebox meets Opera in a story following three couples in the past, present and various places. It’s fun, fabulous, barmy, and relatable. An ordinary narrative delivered with extraordinary operatic passion.
Mike and Amanda meet on a flight to Manchester Airport and soon fall head over heels for one another. Post honeymoon phase, the cute couple live together fighting over what to watch on TV, realising they are two different people. They enjoy each other’s company and are comfortable around one another but there is a doubt niggling in the back of their minds about whether they are too dissimilar. Flicking between channels, one showing Keeping Up With The Kardashians and the other broadcasting, The Marriage of Figaro, they see their relationship troubles and similarities mirrored back to them. On their anniversary day, things take a magical turn.
The cast are as follows: Mike (Jack Herauville), Amanda (Rebecca McAuley), Count (John Ieuan Jones), Countess (Charlotte Trepess), Kim Kardashian (Megan Postle) and Kris Humpries (Ben Storey).
The performance styles are well thought out, Herauville and McAuley emphasise the ordinariness of the couple with their “less is more” naturalistic acting. Meanwhile, the rest of the ensemble over exaggerate the portrayal of their characters and uncover their humorous traits. Singing styles are refreshingly diverse in this musical, ranging from pop singing, to musical theatre belting, to classical singing operatic technique. The melodious moments where all of the voices sing in unison are what makes this musical stand out from the rest.
Having the past (set in 1786) and present placed side by side makes the parallels between both worlds super clear. When the Italian text is translated into English, we discover the libretto and the themes of romance, quarrelling, and uncertainty of love are universal; ringing true today just as they did back then. The Marriage of Figaro is essentially a melodic soap opera or a constructed reality TV show. The perceptions which separate opera and reality TV are the ideas of social class and opulence. So, could reality TV be considered proper art, grand art, fine art, or high art?
Musically, the score is eclectic: the structure, music, and lyrics borrow from various styles and forms. It blends opera and musical theatre together, with reoccurring leitmotifs throughout. Electronic synthesisers are mixed with strings and woodwind. It’s creatively exciting. You can hear hints of Stephen Sondheim and even Lin Manuel Miranda in the music and lyrics too. It reminds you of how musical theatre came to be because of opera.
Caitlyn Mawhinney’s three-piece set works effectively. Centre stage, there is a sofa for the main couple in the story and on either side of it is two big television screens (the frames light up dazzlingly) for both TV programmes. Inside one TV is an old writing desk ready for writing love notes; the other features a modern table to place an iPhone after sending a romantic text. Ed Saunders’ lighting flashes like a Paparazzi’s camera and is dazzling like all the bright screens giving us square eyes in our daily lives. A couple of minor criticisms would be that some lighting cues could have been sharper and the scene transitions weren’t always quick and timely either. Resulting in the production not always feeling slick.
Taking everything into account, it is obvious why this new musical has achieved success. Leo and Hyde have used contemporary and classical music to tell a relevant story about modern life and relationships. Just like a Mozart opera or sonata, you walk away from this musical with catchy motifs stuck in your head – one of them being, “I’m Kim Kardashian”. The only real critic of this musical would be Mozart himself… I’m sure he’s playing Hyde’s music on a piano at the pearly gates.
Reviewed on: Friday 15 November 2019 | Image: Contributed