VERSA| “Just fucking fuck me”: Kim K brilliantly slaughtered Mozart with satire

This play was a triumph. The original writing by Leo Mercer was on a par with the sorts of things I have seen on the Olivier stage at the National Theatre, with a libretto that was light, silly, funny, but also charmingly poignant. He told me that he was trying to attack the notion that opera is “high art”, while soap opera is “low art”. This aim came through strongly when Mo (portrayed by John Paul) smugly sang “this is high art! This is Mozart!” while the Count (Jono Hobbs) and Countess (Ell Potter) had the exact same argument that Kim K (Gabriella Noble) and Kris (James Quilligan) had been having.

The singing was on point. Every note was met with clarity, volume and was without any sense of strain: particularly impressive, given the fact that it was at times wordy and fast enough to be a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, and high-pitched as Phantom of the Opera. Clem Faux’s score was absolutely brilliant: he experimented with different genres, using a more classical style for the Count and Countess scenes, an electric sound for the Kim K scenes and gentle singer-songwriter ballads for Figaro, (carried off wonderfully by Jack Trzcinski).

Acting-wise, special mentions should go to Jono Hobbs and Amelia Gabriel for their portrayals of the Count and Beth. Their facial expressions alone would have been enough to communicate their lines. Her eye-rolls, as Mo tried to enthuse her with his opera, his sighs as the Countess implored him to stop being unfaithful were a joy to behold. Although they were stand-out actors, the rest of the cast were also extremely well characterised, with Noble’s Kardashian-esque waves and selfies and Quilligan’s dogged lustfulness. As an ensemble, they are clearly a cast who have loved working together, and that really shows.

We back this photoshopping

The main thing that made this show great, was its tongue-in-cheek satire. The characters were exaggerated, yet recognisable. Beth and Mo’s fight over the TV remote seemed at first petty, and laughable, but upon deeper reflection made the audience think about their own petty behaviour. This forcing of the audience to reflect upon themselves came into total fruition when the writer Leo Mercer himself turned a camera onto the audience, projecting them onto the backdrop of  the stage. This was a technique that could possibly have been described as a little tired, and heavy-handed, but it was done with a level of irony in keeping with the rest of the production so retained a sense of self-awareness in its obviousness.

The use of the camera in general was really my main issue with this production. While I have seen it done well, in other shows, it did feel a little too much as if they were overcomplicating matters, doing too much, just for the sake of it, and its presence did not really contribute that much to my understanding of the characters or themes. Of course, I can understand that they were trying to make a comment about the constant surveillance on reality TV, but if that was the point they wanted to make, I would have preferred to see it used all the way through, instead of sporadically. Another slight problem on the night was that the music was a little too loud in comparison to the voices sometimes, which meant that the words were occasionally lost, but this is an issue they can very easily rectify for future nights.

All in all, a fantastic production, play and cast, and I can strongly recommend going to see it before it sells out. If you like satire this is definitely one for you.