The Marriage of Kim K by Leoe & Hyde
53two, Manchester [15.07.17]
I promise this is not a Kardashian car crash (not sure whether that will encourage or dissuade you from reading), quite the opposite actually, it’s pure genius.
I’ll be the first to stand up and be counted for having an issue with the Kardashians and this opera hasn’t changed that. It has however used Kim as a trope to tell a compelling story of three unusually intertwined relationships: Amelia and Stephen (they’re not famous yet or are they), The Count and Countess (from Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro) and of course, Kim Kardashian and her 72 day husband, Kris Humphries.
Our welcome party begins when we join Amelia loafing out on the sofa after a long day to eat and watch TV – relatable much. The music that escorts is a charming classical arrangement with undertones of the best Hilary Duff megamix you could possibly get your hands on. This of course sets the scene for Kim’s entrance. Yasemin Mireille gives a truly on point performance as Kim, to the point where every time she comes on stage I roll my eyes the same way I do when someone mentions the real Kim in any capacity. She has the mannerisms down to a T and this shows itself perfectly in her makeup tutorial demo. Her interactions with Kris (played by James Edge) are hilarious and almost had me wondering whether the real Kim and Kris were ever capable of being this entertaining. Having said that, Kris appears to be the sort of sex hungry pig that you’d bump into in Flares and spend the night avoiding and, James delivers this unfortunate vision with continued high energy and skill.
On to the Count and Countess (played by Emily Burnett and Nathan Bellis) and my, my these two have some pipes on them. The singing is really quite exceptional and both actors deliver a passionate and at points humorous story of the breakdown of their relationship. This sandwiched alongside flashes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, with Amelia and Stephen as the filling and you’ve got yourself a slightly odd but captivating dose of TV focused weekday evenings dropped onto the 53two stage.
What’s truly enjoyable about The Marriage of Kim K is that it makes opera accessible and offers us a trio of love stories that we are able to relate to one if not all of them in some sort of way. The cross referencing of The Marriage of Figaro with Kim and Kris’ 72 day wedded bliss is just brilliant. I came out of this wanting to further analyse parallels between these post joining of hands dramas. The juxtaposition of the worlds in which these relationships reside gives us an opportunity to reflect on our compulsion as people to try to mend things and our methods of deciding when to let things alone.
Amelia and Stephen (played by Amelia Gabriel and Stephen Hyde) are in fact a real life couple and their relationship was weaved into the redevelopment of this show. Everything about this is ridiculously cute and whilst I’m not big on cute, I’ve watched a Kim K inspired opera so my life views have been changed in a temporary form of forever. Both Amelia and Stephen give honest and engaging performances that really pull us into their world and make us root for them to sort out their differences. Whilst I cannnot understand Amelia’s obsession with Kim, I temporarily had a similar one with Peter Andre (well, watching his show My Life) and I guess on those grounds myself and Amelia are rather alike. Mozart on the other hand, well I guess I can compare Stephen’s obsession to my ex watching the same three Steven Seagal films over and over.. The contrast between the couple’s Kim K vs Mozart obsessions are hilarious. Arguing over the TV is such a regular part of daily life that we forget how much of a controlling device a remote actually is. Yes, this was certainly a very relatable format which was a great way to ease opera virgins like myself into the genre.
Verdict: The Marriage of Kim K sounds torturous but is in fact a brilliant way to spend a Saturday afternoon at the theatre. I encourage all Kim K fans and phobes alike to go and see this pleasantly surprising and wonderfully entertaining show. Nice work, Leoe & Hyde.