Network of Stuff Theatre, The Pickled King

Review in Issue 14-3 | Autumn 2002

Network of Stuff Theatre (Felix Hayes, Andrew P. Paton and Thomas Warwick) unravel the hysterical story of a kingdom in a terrible state. King Oliver has been missing from the throne for nearly fifteen years and his nasty son, Lord Otto, is ready to take over the crown. However, the King is not dead, merely pickled, and lies in a jar in Dr Able's pantry of medical keepsakes. The near-senile anatomist is aided by the near-stupid Simon. Simon can hear the King speak in the jar: the King wants his kingdom back. Simon reveals his stupidity and the gift of hearing voices to the Grand Deacon and the torturer (both evil). Then begins the dramatic race to see if the pickled king will return to the throne or if the nasty Lord Otto will continue controlling the kingdom as the crowned King.

The three performers portray a wide array of characters through their superb physicality, accents and mime. The story unfolds both backwards and forwards in time. Physical and verbal comedy both play a strong role. For example, Simon takes the king-in-a-jar to the park and attempts to play frisbee with him, except that the frisbee bounces off the glass. When the jars first come alive is also a superb moment: the pickled French Brain, Pickled Baby and the Pickled King have a poetry night but two of them hate poetry and only the King is enthusiastic. A great line comes near the end when the Grand Deacon says, ‘A wise man moves swiftly when the shit starts to fly.’

Although the complex story was gripping, at times the pace was slow. The show could have benefited from music, which would have enhanced the actor-generated sound effects. There were also lots of words and it would be interesting to see how through other means some parts of the story could be told. However, three great performers performed a hilarious and highly original faux-historical tale.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-3
p. 26