REVIEW: Bee Goes Ape Over The True Story of King Kong

Theatre Magdeburg, in Germany, is somewhat a trial ground for new, ambitious productions. The chamber opera “The True Story of King Kong” by Jeffrey Chin is one of these. It combines pre-produced film clips, live video-feeds of performers and puppetry to illustrate the story of the great ape through the movies.

While all these elements are entertaining, they are too much on occasion, writes reviewer Sabine ‘Bee’ Koch.

The film underlying the instrumental end of act one has nothing to offer – maybe a blank screen would have been even more effective in concentrating on the music. In general the pre-produced films feel at times superfluous. I would rather see more of the funny Doppelgänger of the singers who perform parts of the story in a sort of pantomime and the magical puppetry that brings King Kong to life.  Director Roscha A. Säidow sets out to find the truth behind the numerous pictures: “What really happened in 1933 and what are the real circumstances of the death of the screen hero? Who was King Kong really?”

The music is modern and intricately difficult and gives the musicians and singers ample opportunity to show of the quality of their voices and singing. If only the setting would help!

The decision of putting this in the playhouse ‘Schauspielhaus’ instead of on the opera stage is probably understandable regarding size of the auditorium, but the missing orchestra pit is a hurdle almost impossible to master.

The cast of guest singers try their best to be heard over the loud orchestra and they perform admirably – even excellently.

Tenor Bradley Smith as the fictional film director Carl Denham and the conductor Kiril Stankow impress the most and one would wish them better circumstances for their next project.

The True Story of King Kong

Tenor Bradley Smith as Denham (left)

The audience loved it, so we can hope to see this production again in a different setting?

Theater Magdeburg

“The true story of King Kong”

Chamber Opera

Take a bow, Bradley Smith as Denham in The true story of King Kong

More performances will be available on April 20th and on May 12th and 25th, 2019.