The King in Yellow, a Musical Parody

Alec, Ambrose and Mr. Scott haven’t met. Nevertheless, something binds them, as they attempt to laugh through their pain.

3 thoughts on “The King in Yellow, a Musical Parody

  1. It’s a good show, but personally I think it’s for those who enjoy literacy instead of pure comedy like some other fringe shows; simply, it has subtle humor place in with all the plot. The only minor complaints I had is that it takes a bit too long and the host explains the story’s meaning at the which isn’t bad by any means, it just spoils the surprise and it might be a tad uncomfortable when you’re not used to sitting at a Church for a while. So, if you’re familiar with the King in Yellow and enjoy stories where the narrator is also a character in some sense, then you’ll might enjoy this underrated Fringe show.

  2. I think that I should perhaps preface this review by stating that I do not intend on being malicious, and that I only intend to describe this show as I experienced it. “The King in Yellow, a Musical Parody” is not a good show. The location, Knox Church, while small, hot, and stuffy, might have lent itself to the ambience of the show had the creator endeavoured to produce an ambience at all. The only lighting to speak of, besides the light behind the church’s stain-glass windows on the wall behind the performer, was the blue glow of the laptop from which the performer read all his lines. His use of a laptop to provide him with what he ought to have memorized before performing publicly detracted strongly from his ability to connect with the audience. Eyes always flicking down to catch his lines, face illuminated by the stale light, this performer was a step away from his audience the entire time, making it difficult to connect with the content.

    Now, I am a fan of the source material used (Robert W. Chambers’ collection of stories, “The King in Yellow”), which made it particularly difficult to sit through this performance. Certain aspects of the story were, of course, altered, but that is no flaw for a rendition. However, aside from the occasional strings of nonsense-y buzzwords concocted (I assume) by the performer that were almost certainly designed to emulate and ride the coattails of Chambers’ dark style, the story was broken up by a demon narrator, which is where I suppose the “parody” was supposed to lie, but whatever jokes were made fell flat upon the audience. When the performer shifted from the demon voice to the voices of the characters in the story he used, he seemed to have difficulty maintaining the British accent of the main character, Alec. I’m not very familiar with the intricacies of the British class system and the variety of accents that accompany it, but I do notice when one is speaking with a particular accent and when that accent slips into one, while still British, that is different.

    As to the “musical” aspect of the piece, the performer broke out into song intermittently, but I don’t know why because the songs did not exactly add anything to the show. Moreover, they were hackneyed and unoriginal musically. I felt like I had heard the two songs (and there were only two) that he used again and again over the course of the hour a hundred times over even though I’d never seen the performance before. Played on a keyboard (which the performer stood behind the whole time; there was very little movement over the course of the thing), the songs seemed to better showcase the performer’s musical abilities than contribute to the structure or content of the performance. Indeed, these songs cheapened the overall impression of the performance and detracted from the sort of creepiness one would expect from a play related to Robert W. Chambers.

    At the end of the performance, there was a poorly delivered and oddly placed message about climate change. The performer seemed to be blaming the audience (or, more reasonably, the people of the world) for indifference, selfishness, and ignorance, urging them to act, while also maintaining that indifference is the only manner with which we are able to confront the nearly impossible task of protecting the environment. While I agree that the environment ought to be preserved, I fail to see the connection to this particular performance, especially because the final message was so clumsily delivered. However, I must appreciate the fact that the performer tried (I guess) to do something about climate change.

    Overall, I was not captivated by the performance. It was underwhelming, felt somewhat slapped together, and was mostly unappealing aesthetically. I felt no sense of cosmic horror, I did not laugh, and the music was uninteresting and did not fit the concept of the performance.

  3. This is one of those Fringe-y treats that you might wander into by chance (if it wasn’t so far away at Knox United Church, at least!) and come away thinking “What the hell was that?!” – but in the best way possible! Great performance, both dramatically and musically speaking (the songs were linguistically reminiscent of Amanda Palmer for me) and a really interesting format and pace. If you’re at all familiar with the King in Yellow, it won’t disappoint. Loses some points for not really being fully memorized, but I probably only noticed because I was in the front row. Once tightened up a bit, it will be epic. Make the trek!

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