Tuesday, 11 June 2013

King Kong - you've got to see it to believe it

My long weekend was very cultural - "King Kong" on Saturday, Cassandra Wilson at the closing night of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and "Gatsby" yesterday afternoon.


I enjoyed all of them in different ways and will start with "King Kong".

"King Kong" is still in preview and it will be interesting to see whether changes are made before the actual opening.  It is visually and technically spectacular and to echo one of the characters in the show, it has to be seen to be believed!  King Kong himself is amazing. I felt that I was actually looking at this enormous monster, such is the detail of his movements - including facial expressions - and the accompanying sounds.  When he roars and stamps his feet, I could feel the vibrations right up the back of the balcony.

Act one was excellent.  The story clips along and the singing was terrific.  Sometimes I yearned for a united musical identity, rather than the different voices which are inevitable when there are several composers, but I loved the music for itself.

Act two was not as good.  I felt that the story slowed right down and the whole thing became messy.  It was almost resting on the laurels of the spectacle of King Kong, but lacked a real sense of the destruction of King Kong on the rampage through New York.

There is a character called "High Priestess/Cassandra".  I have no idea what this character is doing there.  The actress did a fantastic job, but it slowed the whole story down.  I think the Cassandra name must echo Greek mythology where Cassandra was cursed to know the truth and to have no one ever believe her or listen to her.  She seemed to play a Greek chorus function.  Perhaps.  But really, this is musical theatre and I don't want to think too hard.

In the end, the lack of a hero was a knife in the heart of King Kong the beast and King Kong the show.  Having said that, I'd like to go again later in the season once it has settled in and see what it's like.  It IS thrilling, despite its flaws.

I have a confession to make too...I haven't seen any film version.  I'll remedy that and see what perspective that adds.

Have you seen the show?  What did you think?

Tomorrow, Cassandra Wilson closes the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

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