About Time You Saw: King SizeBy Gilly Hopper
Snoozers, sleepers and insomniacs, crawl into bed with King Size at the contemporary space of the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House.
A restless couple tries to sleep in an unfamiliar hotel room, but feel lost in the king size bed. In the land of nod, their dreams take over in a montage of lullabies, pop classics and German Lieder. Created in collaboration with musician Bendix Dethleffsen, King Size unites songs from across lyrical history with a varied selection including The Kinks, The Jackson 5, Schumann and John Dowland.
Resourcefully guiding the cast of four through an evening of frantic farce, the radical Swiss director Christoph Marthaler presents a ‘sideways look at the art of communication and the meaning of singing through the tradition of the German song recital’. Engulfed in a flurry of turquoise and jade shades, a chambermaid and valet enter a garish hotel room, turn down the bed, plump up the pillows and promptly get in to bed. Morphing into various personae, the multi-linguist cast present excerpts of German spoken word and humorous French yodeling. A passionate trio sings Jackson 5; Tora Augestad riffs in a dowdy peach dress with more sass than Big Mouth Billy Bass (the singing sea bass) to “I’ll Be There.”
Choreographed OTT hand gestures morph from Mariah Carey waving hand moves to sign language and interpretive dance. Onstage stragglers strolling by mid song and impromptu entrances through the bedroom wardrobe, highlight the shows zanier facets and Marthaler’s signature style. The dithery matron’s (Nikola Weisse) cameo performance, involving a Mary Poppin’s-style handbag that reveals a music stand and endless pit of spaghetti (eaten with a shoe horn), amongst other oddities, and cements the show’s off-kilter style.
With a loose theme of ‘slumber’, King Size is a light-hearted and haphazard claim to the inconsequentiality of life – exploring self and other, dream and reality. Michael Von Der Heide’s shows dramatic versatility transitioning from poised show choir boy to wallowing sleep deprived porter. Neither peaceful nor relaxed, King Size will seduce many if taken in jest and good spirit, with dramatics taken the central focus of the evening.
Photography by Simon Hallström