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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

KING KONG (2002) (article first published : 2002-11-2)

King Kong, the brainchild of Durban actor Aldo Brincat, is a must for those who like their theatre innovative, clever, hilarious and extremely well presented. Two diverse performers – the engaging, laid-back and underplayed Aldo and the highly focused and robustly dramatic Michael Gritten – create moments of brilliance in this send-up of a 70 year old movie script.

Currently running at Kwasuka Theatre until November 23, I make no excuses for re-running extracts from my review of that production because it all still applies. After it, I give you a few comments on the current season:

- “In 1933 Hollywood script writers Edgar Wallace and Merian Cooper took Rene Chateaux’s novel of King Kong, and turned it into what was to become a classic movie script. The story involves sea voyages, Black Death Island and a beautiful girl sacrificed as bait to capture a massive ape so that he could be brought to New York.”

- “We’ve seen this type of theatre before: first from Ellis Pearson when he returned from the Le Coq mime school in Paris, then taken up by Nicholas Ellenbogen and his Theatre for Africa’s Raiders of the Lost Aardvark shows which involved Ellis and later Andrew Buckland.

It is theatre that challenges the imagination through minimal sets and costumes and the madcap use of ordinary, everyday items for props. Aldo Brincat also trained at the Le Coq school and he has incorporated skills acquired at this famed institution with his own off-the-wall humour.

Aldo has produced and performed in many good shows but this time he wisely opted to take on the services of experienced director Peter Court, well known for his former experience in pantomime in the UK and in numerous productions in South Africa. His input shows. King Kong is tightly directed where it could easily have become self-indulgent and unfocused and both performers are seen to their best advantage.”

- “Between them they (Brincat and Gritten), play seven characters. Aldo is delightful and prissy as the beautiful Lillian, ominous as one-eyed, limping and hook-armed Captain Peterson and robust as the Scottish seaman Eggnog. Michael is the ruthless movie producer Frank Cunningham and the hot-blooded hero Scott Hudson. Both Aldo and Michael take it in turns to play King Kong or the narrator.

Often all that is required to recognise the characters is a comb, a spoon, a flexing of the muscles or a simple tinsel bow on the head. Most of the time Cunningham and Hudson interact and the carefully-manipulated use of a half-on, half-off jacket provides the identity - the scene where they fight is little short of brilliant.”

Since this review was written, King Kong has garnered several awards and nominations. The show has tightened considerably to better advantage. However, the ending has been changed and I lament the loss of the last beautiful moments between Lillian and the dying ape which appeared in the first show.

However, it’s a must see for its clever interaction, the audience being able to watch the scenario develop through several styles of performance.

King Kong will play from Tuesday to Saturdays at 19h30 and on Sundays at 18h30. Book at Computicket on 083 915 8000 or through Kwasuka Theatre on 031 309-2236. Block bookings or for information about special sold performance s from Sharon Brown on 083 486 3271.




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