REVIEW: The King and I, Empire Theatre 04/04/12

Two golden giants glared over the audience as Curve Theatre Leicester’s touring production of the classic tale ‘The King And I’ arrived at Liverpool’s Empire theatre. Sammy Pollock joined the audience for the press night..

The story that unfolds is simple; the scenes themselves prove more complex however, each failing to glide from one to the next as effortlessly as the dancers who perform during them. Those unfamiliar with the story of The King & I may be left confused by the disjointed effort, with only the pressed second act revealing the underlying attraction between the King and Anna. Ramon and Josefina who play the lead roles make the volatile relationship more convincing as they fail to compliment each other on stage, shining only as individuals.

Josefina revels in her role as Anna, the assertive English teacher who doesn’t adhere to the belittling role allocated to women by the King of Siam who has hired her to teach his many children. The large cast of children were all auditioned locally and the home-grown talent allow for Josefina to prosper with a natural and believable warmth to her character. The stage best glows when filled with people, a regular occurrence as it plays hosts to a mass skilled cast of Kings wives, staff, etc etc etc, (to quote the Kings favourite line). A notably hairy Ramon Tikaram takes the helm as king, although he demands an awful lot, the crowds attention isn’t too far up that list. Saved by the humour written into his lines, all is not lost but there are more suited candidates for the role.


The location of Siam leant favour to creating an entertaining show that could appeal to all. The stage was dominated by two enormous Buddha-like statues, overpowering any solo moment with their intensity but casting no shadows on the quality of talent flourishing on stage. Oriental fan dancers Makoto Iso and Aiko Kato had eyes twirling as they flipped and flicked their way through an awe inspiring routine. The ballet dancers were just as fascinating, pairing ribbons with their disciplined dance to arouse the crowd into a whirlwind of magic.

Ballet was the source of the shows finer moments, the highlight coming as Anna, The King and Sir Edward watch on, witnessing a fraction of the delight endowed upon the audience throughout the show, as the rest of the cast perform ‘The small house of Uncle Thomas’ to entice the English delegate. The sudden flurry of activity is a refreshing injection of energy to the production and sets the pace for the following scenes whereby the king finally begins to enjoy himself in coherence with the crowd.

A powerful show with underlying tales of politics, affairs and romance ‘The King And I’ offers taunting moments of excellence. However, disjointed, uneasy performances override the longstanding high esteem that the show is held in.

The King and I runs until Saturday 7th April 2012 


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