Review: Kingdom, HOME Manchester

When thinking of theatre productions, traditional plays often come to mind, but Kingdom and the work of Señor Serrano couldn’t be more unlike the time-honoured plays we are used to. This play takes you to another world that seems vastly different from what we see today, but with the use of comedy, music and innovative camera production, Kingdom explains how the dystopian world it describes has been formed due to humanity’s reach for perfection and, perhaps more importantly, money!

If you haven’t heard of Señor Serrano, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that they are a whimsical group who only make wacky, nonsensical productions, as that’s how every website describes them. Actually, that couldn’t be further from reality. Their latest production, Kingdom, is the most thought-provoking, glorious exploration of how mankind can help the globe to flourish but also be solely responsible for its downfall. With the use of sound effects (courtesy of the remarkable David Muñiz) and a soundtrack that is custom built for a punk’s dream, Kingdom invites audience members to rethink everything they know about the creation of the world. Is the story of Adam and Eve entirely truthful? Was the forbidden fruit an apple or have we all be severely mislead?

The opening sequence of the play makes you wonder whether this is going to be an hour of Spanish monologues, but as the hour starts to pass you are lured into a consuming landscape of rap and bananas! A Chinese rap about the brilliance of bananas is the one thing I don’t know I need in my life, but I never want to stop listening to it. Wang Ping-Hsiang completely takes over the stage when he starts to rap, and he compels you to watch him. His comedic timing is as close to perfection as you could get, regardless of the fact he was rapping in Chinese. The use of music throughout is amazing; the use of drums to build up a haunting tension that brings you to the edge of your seat (literally) and the talents of Nico Roig are unparalleled. It’s his genius that really ties this production all together and makes it faultless.

The human body is often explored in theatre, but it can often turn distasteful very quickly or it can simply not fit the theme of the play. Kingdom, but in particular Diego Anido, uses the body to explore the famine that ensued after the Wall Street Crash. I think that this scene in particular is marvellous, the way he contorts his body is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced as an audience member. I do, however, feel that, due to the comedic nature of the whole production, the immense value this scene holds is lost to the audience.

This play is a must see. If you’ve never experienced theatre that moves away from the norm then you need to see this. Señor Serrano is a group that everyone needs to look out for: their talents are beyond measure and the concepts they dream up are unlike anything in the modern-day theatre world. It is clear to see that every pocket-sized detail has been contemplated for hours and it all fits together to create pure, vibrant theatre that shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone.

Kingdom is playing HOME Manchester until 13 April. For more information and tickets, see the HOME Manchester website.