The Vaults, London – until 27 August 2017
Ridiculous, slightly bizarre, but also just a little bit brilliant – this is Owen Lewis and Daniel Clarkson’s delightfully comic spin on Hollywood’s classic tale of adventure, love, wonder and, of course, bananas.
Set beneath Waterloo in The Vaults, the venue’s underground ambience feeds into the play, allowing the audience to get lost in the silliness. The character of the movie’s Carl Denham is deliciously played for wonderful parody, with Rob Crouch giving Jack Black more than a run for his money. Also bound for the ominous Skull Island are Jack Driscoll, played here by Ben Chamberlain who’s a considerably less smooth operator and hero than Adrien Brody. Chamberlain’s Driscoll is more like Eugene from Grease, only this time with a fear of everything under the sun! Sam Donnelly plays the skipper, while Brendan Murphy puts in a manic turn as Token Guy, a vital crew member and component to the plot who will most certainly not wind up dead.
The love interest has always fuelled the complex passions of King Kong and at The Vaults it’s Alix Dunmore who takes on the tragic responsibilities of Anne. Dunmore does a delightful job in poking fun at the misogynistic overtones of the time, steering the hapless crew in the right direction on their doomed quest.
The show broadly follows the famed plot with just some slight tweaks that only add to the overall hilarity. It’s a short and sweet piece of comedic joy with some bananas and some clueless primates thrown in for good measure. The show even manages to tug the heartstrings, with the King Kong’s fabled climax, proving to be a surprisingly effective ending, even when staged on a micro-budget.
Be it beauty, planes or the concrete of 5th Avenue, whatever it was that killed the beast, this King Kong will leave you roaring with laughter.