top of page

Review: The King of Taking at The Neilson Nutshell Theatre

Review by Alison Stoddart

Physical performance art looks exhausting! Thus, to be able to manage capturing and keeping an audience, peppered with children, engaged and giggling for over an hour is a shear feat of momentous physical stamina and rampant talent. Billed as a "childish, petulant King, that must move only upon fanfare and that loves all that is new and shiny", Tom Monckton offers up an incredibly physically absurdist performance of a King that takes all, in what is perhaps a critique of a culture captured and made laughable by our constant and seemly inexhaustible fascination with a desire for shiny new things.     

Monckton certainly has all the moves down.  He trained at New Zealand’s circus school CircoArts and then in Paris at the physical theatre school Lecoq. His body language and acrobatic mime is brilliantly done, and he is faintly reminiscent of the Mr Bean character.  That someone sitting in a chair could be so funny is due to his excellent comedic timing and his perfecting of the marionette/puppet style of movement.

Set in a medieval world of princes, kings, knights and expendable servants, Monckton barely speaks and uses mime to tell his story. His world has some unwritten rules, one being that he can only walk on red carpet, and he is like a child playing a game of not stepping on the ground with this.  In fact, his whole persona is delightfully childlike, especially when capturing the petulance of childhood. He is adept at folding his body on, into and around his throne and his version of Dorothy’s wicked witch of the west melting into his throne is laugh out loud funny and very clever. 

Creating my own backstory to his character, the King has obviously been raised as an only child, feted and spoilt and lacking any social skills.  He is without empathy and regard for the sanctity of life and has many (dispensable) servants. He also has a very good archer in his employ.  His resolution of choice is to merely have this archer shoot arrows at anyone who displeases him. This leads to an amusing mime display of burying the bodies which involves dungeons, dragons and something with a tail (which was not quite clear to me, but nevertheless still funny). In this way he disposes of at least three of his servants, the last being Phil (they are all named) who is not quite dead.

A premise of the show is the encouragement of the audience to bring the King a gift and watching him open his presents is highly amusing and very audience inclusive. He doesn’t hold back with his childish delight, and alternatively, disgust, with each gift which has the front row children giggling away uncontrollably. 

With a definite nod to influences like Mr Bean, Blackadder, Monty Python and even Vivian from the Young Ones, The King of Taking has something for all ages.

Image Supplied


bottom of page