The humble Holden Street Theatre hosts The King In Exile, a witty, fantastical exploration of culture, regime change and impotence in many of its forms.
Initially, the play is focused on an alien king removed from his home planet and placed in Australia, where he faces traumatizing adversity. A not so subtle metaphor for the life and experiences of a young migrant and his family, as the play outlines. There are some novel ideas explored in this work, including the long term effects of bullying and the impact and outcomes that become apparent further in life.
The play also explores adversity and the powerlessness felt by those who can’t or won’t conform. Not fitting in is an issue faced by most people at some point in their lives and this play demonstrates the heartache and pressure on people, particularly immigrants, in aligning with a new culture.
The simple set pushed the onus of performance onto the cast who carried the performance wonderfully. The star, Thomas Kay, had a slightly wooden beginning, but as the play continued to unfold he mastered his role and encapsulated the audience. His antagonist, Leigh Ormsby, was the definition of truculence, belligerently launching into tirades and denigrating Kay masterfully. The other characters performed wonderfully, although the Macbeth inspired witches were at times a bit much to bear.
This absurdist play is not one to be missed. A fun, lighthearted endeavor which raises real questions about Australian cultural change and social adversity. A fantastic cast of characters which mean that it is difficult to find an audience member who cannot relate in some way to one of the many, at times outlandish, characters. Immigration and xenophobia are perennial issues in Australian culture and this play raises an interesting, sometimes forgotten voice of the tortured individual attempting to fit in.