King Chaos – Tristan Bates Theatre

kingchaos“King Chaos”, or the play of ‘who looks better in a crown?’, is now playing an exclusive run at the Camden Fringe. The science fiction comedy transports us to times in which ‘The Syndicate’ reigns the galaxy. At the top: brattish and idiotic King Jeffrey who signs death penalties as if they were autographs. Having been mistreated for years by the Syndicate, Tyler and Gary form ‘The Federation’ to stop the terror that is Jeffrey’s rulership for once and for all. What they fail to consider is how power corrupts even the noblest people, and Tyler and Gary are far from noble or too clever themselves.

An amusing take on corruption, moral dilemmas and aspects of modern day politics, “King Chaos” dishes out its criticisms and musings in the form of puns and Film/TV references. The play relies heavily on wordplay, at times a little self-indulgent, but continuously pushes the plot forward. Unfortunately, the ending feels very abrupt, but can be explained by its episodic format – “King Chaos” is the third instalment of a series of plays entitled “Future Boys”, all written and directed by Steve Jordan. While the format may feel more comfortable to those familiar with the other parts, there’s no knowledge of previous content required to understand what is going on. The lovable characters and witty, at times deep, remarks on issues are the charm of the play. Amongst the actors, Emma Stirling has great comical timing and delights with her facial expressions. It is Cliff Chapman, however, who outacts the others with his genuine and emotional portrayal of Tyler. Whenever he is on stage, he doesn’t seem to act but live his part.

What is most fascinating about this play is how Steve Jordan with his words, and the cast with their acting, paint pictures and create an entire world in a completely empty space. As a Fringe play, the production is naturally somewhat low-budget and relies on minimal props. Almost unbelievably, “King Chaos” absolutely succeeds in making the audience imagine the different settings of an imperial spaceship. Bad Bat Productions is playing to their strengths by not forcedly putting on a cheap SciFi stage but focusing on doing justice to the script instead.

Reviewed by Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent