Marriage of Kim K
C Venues (C-1)
Although my first show of this year’s festival, the Marriage of Kim K was also my wildcard choice. A mash-up of the lives of three couples, told in three musical genres. My love for fringe theatre comes from it giving a stage to ideas that don’t fit within traditional genres, and people attempting to break that well-worn pattern for success. Kim K seemed to fit the brief.
The play follows the three warring couples, Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, The Count and Countess of Almaviva, and Amelia and Stephen the everyman couple framing and linking between the two through their preferred television choice.
The music was strong with Echo Chamber, the live orchestra peeking out from behind the stage edges, moving seamlessly between the different genres the piece demanded. All the cast brought energy and commitment to the stage. Particularly vocally strong were Nathan Bellis and Emily Burnett as the Countess and Count of Almaviva. Amelia (Amelia Gabriel) also has great stage presence and remained intensely watchable throughout.
Ultimately however, despite all the potential, there was a frustrating lack of onstage action. The character journeys were minimal. Particularly beige, the central couple Amelia and Stephen were not given enough convincing moments of coupledom for me to invest in their troubles – presented with them bickering over the remote control, it’s hard to feel any sympathy or joy for their situation. There wasn’t sufficient build up to the ultimate ending.
There were enjoyable songs within the show. I enjoyed Amelia’s ode to Kim. However, the songs rarely moved the action forward, but rather took one idea and ruminated upon it for the duration. There were some comic moments, but they were overplayed – jokes that could have been communicated in one line were expanded to entire songs. A standout moment where Amelia switches the subtitles on and our Mozart couple switched from Italian to English was overplayed in this fashion. Jokes don’t usually get funnier if they are repeated.
As a concept – the comparison of high culture and low culture appeals to me as a middle finger to the snobbery in art forms that are, at their heart, for entertainment. The introduction of the Count and Countess of Almaviva singing in Italian, was initially exciting. However, their introduction was accompanied by lyrics insisting that what they are saying isn’t important, but the emotion of it. The result was that when they switched to English, I had already been told their words weren’t the priority, and didn’t follow the story arc – although I did enjoy their wonderful vocals, which stood out as exceptional amongst the cast.
The character of Kris was introduced as a caricature – shallow and obsessed with Kim’s body. The inclusion of this character without any eventual come-down was problematic. If you show us a misogynist at the start of the play, I’d like to see him pay for it by the end. His lack of emotional depth meant there was no satisfying pay-off for the demonstrative objectification and showboating.
Ultimately it felt like the cast and musicians could have done more. The Marriage of Kim K would have been more successful if the audience was trusted to follow a more complex plot, given more nuanced character development and the 75 minutes were packed full, rather than hammering points home.
Overall I was entertained – but in the competitive climate of the fringe, you wouldn’t regret missing it.
The Marriage of Kim K runs from the 2-28 August, C Venues, Edinburgh Festival Fringe