Photo: Steve Hopson @WikimediaCommons

¡Viva! 2019: Kingdom

It’s not often you walk into a theatre and the actors are already onstage, smoking and chatting. I was scrambling for my ticket to check if I had accidentally arrived late when the lights dimmed.

There is silence. Long silence. The actors look at us. We look at them. Nothing.

Estamos bien,” one finally says.

我们没有问题,” says another.

It’s fine for me,” says the last.

And with that we are off, head-first, backwards, and upside-down into a show the likes of which we have never seen before, a phenomenal and mercurial blend of stage performance, monologues, languages, comedy, musical performance, and interactive video production.

Kingdom, HOME’s ¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival headline production by Barcelona theatre company Señor Serrano, sweeps through the history of capitalism and the consequences of constant growth with an almost obsessive focus on one particular example of it: los platanos. Bananas. The rise and fall, and rise, and fall, and rise, and fall of bananas.

Pablo Rosal leads the way, with a fanciful rambling of how everyone is okay, everything is fine, there’s no problem and nothing to see here. And from there it unfurls.

Just five people curate the whole experience. The actors use live projection to create a film in front of our eyes, with clever and hilarious camerawork — onstage a man stepping through potted plants, onscreen an intrepid explorer, sweating and clambering through thick Costa Rican overgrowth. Here we have discovered bananas — the next step is creating a demand for them.

The show flows seamlessly as a ballerina’s dress from one scene to the next, fewer seconds going spare than at Takeru Kobayashi’s dinner table. Incredible musical performances, including a Chinese rap song from Wang Ping-Hsiang and a multi-instrumental masterclass from Nico Roig, perfectly complement the live SFX mixing of David Muñiz, all while dressed as a big yellow banana.

A bizarre and hilarious show that comes with a sincere critique of capitalism and its ever-fluctuating nature, Kingdom is as much an escapist fantasy as it is a documentary. The energy, lights, and Diego Anido’s body are stripped at a pivotal moment in the show, as the actor contorts himself in excruciating silence, a subtle yet powerful physical representation of the post-Wall Street crash famine.

Footage from old King Kong movies are green screened onto fake newspaper covers, around miniature models blown up into full-size towns and trains and cargo through the brilliant live film, which ties the show together with a nice bow on top. It is patently obvious that even the most minuscule of details have been considered for hours, somehow without obscuring the overall picture. It’s fantastic.

Señor Serrano are set to take the theatre-film hybrid around Italy, France, and Spain for the remainder of the year. If your future travels align, or you just hate consumerism that much, then get yourself there — just leave all your bananas by the door when you do.

 

5/5.

Tags: home, iViva! Film Festival, Manchester, Señor Serrano, Spanish and Latin America

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