Barcelona-based theatre company Señor Serrano, contributing to the theatre element of this year’s year’s ¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival 2019 at Manchester’s HOME, create what they call “cinema-in-real-time”, in this case using a live-feed camera, keyboard, guitar, microphones, drum kit, amplification and a huge number of smaller props carefully arranged across three large tables, as well as a willingness to show off their manly bodies.
Projected onto the back wall of the stage with the addition of surtitles for a performance spoken in a mixture of Spanish, Chinese and English, this ticks most of the boxes for HOME theatre’s initial ambition to reflect the cutting edge of modern European theatre, where hitherto mutually-exclusive artforms like theatre, cinema and music, mix and match to create something wholly new.
Here the five on-stage performers – Diego Anido, Pablo Rosal, Wang Ping-Hsiang, David Muñiz and Nico Roig – confront nothing more or less than the capitalist system itself, through the frankly unexpected juxtaposition of bananas and King Kong. In their own words “Kingdom is an irreverent cocktail mixing bananas, consumerism, virile choreographies (sic), commercials, punk rock, King Kong, supermarkets, growth, confusion, expansion, multinationals, shortages, coups d’état, bestiality, rap music and very macho men in an endless party.”
Bananas, the banana industry and its pioneers are, we discover, a perfect example of the contemporary capitalist system and how it works. Alongside the apparently sweet and humble banana, King Kong is an iconic embodiment of virility, overwhelming force, and instinct. The two, they say, are twin totems of the system, “two insatiable beasts that need to grow without limits and great devourers of resources” embodying an economic system that cannot stop growing even though this inevitably pushes humanity towards extinction.
This might all sound like a highly unlikely basis for a theatre show but then that’s part of the fun. With its refreshing mix of high and low tech, plus an impressive exuberance, Kingdom is a mischievous and anarchic, sometimes baffling but often hilarious show, whose essential message, they insist, is that “the world is going to shit, let’s celebrate”.
Main image: Kingdom. Photo by Vicenç Viaplana
Kingdom is part of the February to October, 2019 Theatre Season at HOME in Manchester. For more information, visit homemcr.org