By Elena Richards Coldicutt
Photography: Mark Russell
If you get your kicks watching Keeping up with the Kardashians (seek help) or have ever wanted to go to the opera but fear you’ll nod off due to multilingual ineptitude, then this is one for you.
Award-winning and critically acclaimed leo&hyde’s ‘The Marriage of Kim K’ is a genre-defying, cultural concoction of opera, pop and rap. From the outset the performance was captivating. How could it be possible to intertwine Hollywood wish-wash with wonderous, white wig composition?
Amanda (Rebecca McAuley) and Mike (Jack Harauville) are a couple whose love blossoms over their passion for film and television, and they find themselves arguing… Over what to watch on television. The musical flicks between illuminated neon orange and purple life-size TV screens, satirical songs and technical issues.
Often the lighting was out of sync with both the music and the acting. The illuminations when ‘flicking between TV channels’ made the production feel like a Gogglebox episode from 2011, in the middle of nowhere, with a picture delay. The play is essentially themed around Gogglebox, with a running commentary from the young couple throughout.
Amanda and Mike watch a dim-witted, muscular Kris Humphries’ (Ben Storey) 72 day marriage to an accurately portrayed Kim Kardashian (Megan Postle) unfold, and to Amanda’s frustration, an irksome Mike introduces her to the world of Count (John Ieuan Jones) and Countess Almaviva (Charlotte Trepess) from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. For the duration of Act 1, they switch channels between ballgowns and celebrity frowns until Mike surprises Amanda with a virtual reality 4K TV.
The performers seemed to compete to be heard over conflicting microphone levels, and in scenes where an accurately nasal Kim bursts in to rap, (which resembles beat-boxing rather than words) the bass of the music overpowered the vocals, creating what could only resemble a karaoke night at a bassline venue.
The operatic talents, however, are phenomenal. If there’s one thing that leo&hyde got right, it’s the hilarious and emotive harmonics performed by the Count and Countess, whose acting and vocal skills are a credit to the company and Mozart’s composition, however accurate the translation.
Leo & Hyde successfully and wittingly ‘translated’ The Marriage of Figaro into a modern English exchange, where the context mirrors that of the Kardashians – affairs, parties and cliché innuendo. By the end of Act 1, there had been many a humorous play on words, however, during some moments it feels as though the play should have fewer words from the main couple involved… But if cheesy romance is up your street, you’ll nonetheless indulge in the music and drama.
However, Act 2 brought a refreshing, and unexpected twist. The change in Caitlyn Mawhinney’s set design screamed like Kim’s Instagram for your attention, and it succeeded. The music was gripping, the breakup song is heartbreaking and the production finally allows the audience to invest in and attach themselves to the couple’s story.
There are some nods to The Marriage of Figaro – Kim’s phone pin is K492, the chronological number given to the composition by Mozart, and the dialogue is both amusing and intelligent, despite being a part of what might originally seem like a predictable, cringe-laden plot.
All in all, ‘The Marriage of Kim K’ features a brilliant concept, with catchy songs and well-timed jokes. It succeeds in telling its story and breaks boundaries with uncategorizable, original songs. Perhaps it just needs to be tidied up a bit, possibly like the office of the Kardashian’s divorce lawyer.