Trans Express, The Lazy Kings

Review in Issue 16-3/4 | Autumn 2004

Six lazy monarchs are borne through the streets, each in their own beautifully baroque ‘chariot’. One has a rustic hay-wain and is accompanied by cowskin-clad folk with giant musical-moo-makers. Another is in a giant clam-shell and followed by an ancient fire-engine filled with a fishtank – full of goggle-eyed creatures. A chattering queen is perched on top of a sphere, spouting a stream of cajoling gobbledy-gook, circled by a team of cyclists on cranky old machines. A perky young prince leaps out of his coach (led in by a team of giant skeletons) to drag a young maiden in with him.

It is pure carnival: boundaries are blurred as the monarchs sing, dance and flirt with their subjects, the costumes and structures are divinely decadent; there is noise and merriment, the smell of smoke in the air, performers running through bearing flaming torches. This French company are highly experienced in crowd management; there is little obtrusive stewarding. We are led to an enormous (25 metre) mobile rig strung with swings and hoops. And then? Well, the Kings ascend and do lots of good aerial tricks – then it is over.

And here is the problem: despite the years of devising and designing, there seems to have been nobody looking out for the dramaturgy of the piece. It was a fantastic event – but missing a dramatic resolution. I was pleased that they didn’t take the easy option – fireworks. As sound had been used so well during the processional section, perhaps they could have built on that to create a symphonic ending? As it was, this premiere was beautiful but incomplete.

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This article in the magazine

Issue 16-3/4
p. 30