Review of King Chaos at the Tristan Bates Theatre, London

September 3, 2015 11:29 am

Though I’ve given it two stars, I really quite enjoyed myself on Wednesday night going to see King Chaos. I didn’t know there was a trilogy going on – just that Cliff Chapman was in it, so it was bound to be sci-fi and funny.

The two leads are rebels of the Federation (nod to Star Trek), infiltrating Mother Ship of the Syndicate where the evil Emperor/King Dude with half a brain and a smarmy side-kick administrator have been killing people who oppose them in any way without scruple. But as soon as it looks like the heroes have gained control, of course, it starts to get a little more problematic than it may have at first appeared.

theatre

The space was not as well used as one might have wanted, given that there are four actors and the Tristan Bates theatre space is TINY… But the laughs came in early and established almost immediately that it was okay to laugh during this production.

The laughs were okay as well. Most of them relied on the idiot character being… well… idiotic, and I did laugh quite a bit, but not as hard towards the end as I had at the beginning. There’s only so many times you can nudge the humour in a certain direction before it starts to feel forced and a little 2D. I did want to give most of the actors onstage a cup of coffee as well. I couldn’t tell if the short run was already beginning to wear on them, or if some of the actors weren’t taking the production as seriously as perhaps they should, given they had a paying audience in to see them. Because of their disbelief, I too found it hard to really hold onto what was going on as an audience member.

The script itself felt a little second-drafty, and though the world had been previously set up for us in former productions, I felt a little seat-of-my-pants catching up with them on it as a completely new set of eyes.

What I did appreciate in heaps was the political commentary, which – whether intentional or not – was something of a commentary on both our own and other governments in the 21st Century. It was this slant, mostly in pockets rather than bagfuls rammed down my throat (thank goodness) that kept my attention.

A couple of twists towards the end brought me out of the atmosphere somewhat. When you find out the real ‘orchestrator’ is the female of the group (really? We’re the bad guys here TOO?) and the ending, while making sense, felt a bit of a cop-out and left me a tiny bit unfulfilled in the last moments.

In short, King Chaos was a sweet attempt to pitch sci-fi with comedy on what must have been a severely restricted budget. I totally get what they’re trying to do, but hope they have considered the production at large the next time I see one of their shows.

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