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The Marriage of Kim K review at Arcola Theatre, London – ‘an ambitious fusion’

The cast of The Marriage of Kim K at the Arcola Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Opening Dalston’s annual Grimeborn opera festival before visiting the Edinburgh Fringe, The Marriage of Kim K come from Manchester-based company Leoe and Hyde.

Despite an almost entirely sung text, it is more musical theatre than opera. Amelia, a young lawyer, is married to aspiring West End composer, Stephen. When it comes to TV, she’s glued to callipygian Kim Kardashian, but he prefers a Mozart opera. Three strands of action intertwine: Amelia and Stephen; Kim and her husband of 72 days, basketball player Kris Humphries, and Count and Countess Almaviva from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. It’s a lot for a 75-minute show.

Initially, the latter couple sing excerpts from Figaro in Italian, but soon switch to new English words in famous arias not necessarily assigned them by Mozart. It’s all fairly clever, and the eclectic, pop-infused music for the modern couples – with its tight strings, percussion and electronic keyboard – is fluent and occasionally ingenious, but it favours timid motifs rather than big melodies, or even big rhythms. Inevitably, it gets outshone by Wolfgang Amadeus.

The lyrics are more gently amusing than laugh-out-loud, and the half-rhymes tend to sound defeatist (though “Puccini on/Armenian” was rather good). The mood-shift towards the end – to serious stuff about relationships – seemed shoehorned in too.

All six performers shape their characters adeptly (with James Edge’s Kris somehow simultaneously slimy and engaging) and there is some strong singing, though the amplification is inconsistent and too many words get lost. Even if The Marriage of Kim K seems unlikely to break the internet, its creative team shows promise.

 

Verdict
Ambitious fusion of reality TV, ordinary life and Mozart, more experimental musical than opera

Production Information

Production
The Marriage of Kim K
Venue
Arcola
City
London
Starts
July 25, 2017
Ends
July 29, 2017, then Edinburgh Fringe
Press night
July 25, 2017
Librettist
Leo Mercer
Composer
Stephen Hyde
Director
Stephen Hyde
Musical director
Sam Davies
Set
Alexander Newton
Lighting
Alexander Newton
Technical
Daniel Mawson (sound engineer)
Cast includes
Nathan Bellis, Emily Burnett, James Edge, Amelia Gabriel, Yasemin Mireille, Stephen Hyde
Producer
Alexander Newton for Leoe and Hyde
Running time
1hr 15mins