The Marriage of Kim K
Reviewed – 25th July 2017
“Zesty and Irreverent”
First, a quick note. I am not an ‘opera person’. In fact, The Marriage of Kim K’ is the first opera I have ever seen. And seeing as it is part of the Arcola Theatre’s Grimeborn Opera Festival, whose tag line is ‘see opera differently’, I feel this is important. I have never seen opera, differently or otherwise, so what I find to be brilliant may seem to an opera purist to be sacrilegious. That said, this show is brilliant. And I don’t even care if it’s sacrilegious.
In a dramatically innovative restaging of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, we follow central couple Amelia (Amelia Gabriel) and Stephen (Stephen Hyde) attempting to keep their relationship alive amid the competing pressures of work and their diverging interests. She loves the Kardashians, he loves opera. Into this set-up come Kim Kardashian (Yasemin Mireille) and Kris Humphries (James Edge) and the Count and Countess Almaviva (Nathan Bellis and Emily Burnett), via the TV set. Both of these couples are also experiencing their own marriage troubles and it is through their parallel storylines and eventual interactions that the script has a lot of fun mixing fact and fiction. It is a night that begins with our core couple watching reality TV and finishes with them being watched by it.
The small stage is put to ingenious use. Amelia and Stephen occupy the central space of sofa and TV, whilst Kim and Kris and the Count and Countess occupy the two opposite wings. In a witty touch, these wings are mirror images of each other, both containing a single table and chair, showing us that though our couple may argue about the relative merits of high and low culture, this production knows that they are equal.
The production is great across the board. The story and lyrics by Leoe Mercer are zesty and irrerevant and the cast, all brilliant, are clearly having a lot of fun. Mireille is particularly acute at conveying both Kim’s mercenary artificiality and her real longing for love, whilst Edge is very good on Kris’ bouncing boorishness. Stephen Hyde, also in charge of the music, writes that he took Mozart’s original “melodies … [and] reimagine[d] them as all sorts of music – hip-hop, R&B, musical theatre, film, blues, jazz.” The result is a brilliant concoction, which with Leoe Mercer’s witty lyrics, combines to create a show that provides a lot of laughs and a lot to think about. So much so that you might miss them all the first time around. Best to go see it twice.
Reviewed by Alice Gray
Photography by Shay Rowan
THE MARRIAGE OF KIM K
is at the Arcola Theatre until 29th July and continues throughout August at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe