King Kong

Daniel Clarkson
Monkey Live
The Vaults

Sam Donnelly as the Skipper and Rob Crouch as Carl Denham Credit: Geraint Lewis
Benjamin Chamberlain as Jack Driscoll Credit: Geraint Lewis
Benjamin Chamberlain as Jack Driscoll and Rob Crouch as Carl Denham Credit: Geraint Lewis
Brendan Murphy as the Helmsman Credit: Geraint Lewis
Alix Dunmore as Ann and Rob Crouch as Carl Denham Credit: Geraint Lewis

Writer Daniel Clarkson is one half of the team that writes the “Potted” series of stage shows and this is in the same zany tradition in a line you can trace back to the madness of the Goons and of ITMA.

Though Sam Clarkson’s sound score is full of the giant ape’s roars and the rhythm preparing for sacrifice, this isn’t a show that sets out to scare you but instead offers one laugh after another if you will give it your jokey complicity.

The tale of film-maker Carl Debham (Rob Crouch in Orson Welles ego mode) setting off to an island of fantastic creatures with attractive actress Ann (Alix Dunmore) to make a movie featuring its animals and then taking Kong back to America is told very simply with a cast of just five and recourse to some puppetry.

Designers Simon Scullion and Sophia Simensky provide a setting that’s a retreating ramp of art deco-patterned ground rows creating a 1930s picture palace aura as well as masking from which almost anything can pop up from palm trees to dinosaurs, sharks, giant squid, cannibals, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building buzzing with aeroplanes as well as Kong himself in various sizes and numerous characters, usually played by Brendan Murphy (aka Token Guy).

With Sam Donnelly as the one-legged Skipper (though he’s not sure which leg) and Ben Chamberlain as Jack Driscoll, Debham’s one-man film crew making up the rest of the team, and everyone works their butts off to keep this going at a cracking pace. You never know who will pop up as what but they are full of surprises and overblown but well-timed acting that fits Owen Lewis’s production perfectly.

The audience seem to enjoy it as much as the cast does. The Vaults may seem more spooky than comic but this fills those gloomy dark arches with fun.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton