Thom Monckton’s The King of Taking is a physicality-based solo efficiency, whereby the petulant, titular King tries, and fails, to navigate his kingdom and his topics – to hilarious end result.
The lights go as much as Gemma Tweedie’s sparse and opulent set, with the richly-coloured cloth banners and tent doing a tremendous job of delineating the efficiency space. Of instant be aware, when the play opens, is the Chekhov’s Gun of three pulleys. Contained in the tent is an elaborately-upholstered throne.
The throne extra resembles a excessive chair, which permits Thom Monckton’s King to loom over us, after he makes his fanfared, regal entrance. Monckton is wearing a pyjama onesie, ruff, and material crown – evoking pictures of Maurice Sendak’s The place the Wild Issues Are or the quintessential Lord of Misrule. The King is fussy and sulky, typified by his wanton killing of his topics offstage – at slightest inconvenience – and his incapacity to step on the bottom and not using a purple carpet. That is performed to perfection by Monckton, who makes use of many spectacular acrobatic feats, physique contortions, and tableaux poses, to point out the imbecilic nature of the King, and the lengths he would go to as a way to avoid the carpetless-ground.
The physicality is the place this present really sings. Monckton’s use of mime to point out the King’s more and more grandiose requests, and the vaudevillian method by which Monckton tosses his physique round, are among the many most spectacular and well-utilised miming in current reminiscence.
They are saying ‘repetition legitimises’, and that is actually the case in The King of Taking. Monckton repeats many elements – from the macro to the micro – and successfully builds/adjustments them to nice storytelling impact. The repetition of varied aides’ names, the fanfares, and the large mimed sequences – all subtly totally different every time (harking back to the plan-making in Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Lifeless) – are very comedic and efficient storytelling instruments. The King usually comes throughout like a toddler embellishing a narrative or calling for different tales when bored.
This child-like characterisation of the King is presumably greatest exemplified by the presents. Earlier than the present, and within the publicity, the viewers are invited to carry alongside a wrapped current for the King. Or, carry an object, and have it wrapped onsite. These are then deposited onstage by a loyal topic, for the King to peruse at leisure. This opens the piece as much as stellar improvisation.
All through the play, Monckton calls on the viewers to summon his topics, or admonish them for deriving pleasure from his disappointment. Later, whereas unwrapping the presents, Monckton singles out viewers members who he thinks may need dared give him such a awful reward. One reviewer even had a ball on a string thrown at him!
One side of the presents was that, at occasions, it was tough for the viewers to see what the present current was – and there have been some really unusual choices. Nonetheless, the Firm received round this with a discrete digicam and projector. It might have been good to see the digicam and projector utilized in different fascinating methods as nicely, as Monckton makes use of a plethora of different objects in such creative methods all through the play.
The King of Taking is unbelievable, with the viewers in sustained laughter all through. We had been additionally left with a bit to consider, with a considerably shocking ending leaving us considering wider themes of materiality and the oft-hidden, destructive outcomes of extra.
The King of Taking performs at Rangatira, Q Theatre, from 11-Twelfth November, 2022.