Adelaide Cabaret Festival
The Space
Until 23 Jun 2018

Review by Thomas Filsell

“The Legend of Queen Kong: Episode II” is a rollicking space-based rock opera with a live science-fiction soundtrack played by The HOMOsapiens and starring Sarah Ward as Yana Alana as Queen Kong – a humanoid, part-meteorite, mythological immortal ape being who embarks on a journey of self-reflexive, self-discovery against a backdrop of self-obsession and selfie-obsessed unsociality that predominates among contemporary primates.

“The Legend of Queen Kong” is fantastically written – the adverb here being deliberately chosen as a reflection of the show’s intergalactic fantasy milieu – featuring consistently engaging humour, socio-political satire and philosophical conundrums that leave the audience pondering, until we are hit by another cracker and gravity metamorphoses back into levity.

There is no real story to speak of in “The Legend”– not in the sense of a linear narrative where we follow a cast of characters from beginning through plot developments and into a conclusion – but this makes it all the more impressive that we are so quickly able to form such a strong empathetic bond with Yana Alana and enjoy her philosophical ponderings as she navigates her way across the star-scattered universe, performing hilarious musical and spoken vignettes and powerful space themed rock and roll ballads all the while.

The greatest part about the show’s writing is not only that the music is so strong and the songs so engaging, enjoyable and at times emotionally impactful, but that there is so much humour and satire throughout. Yana, or Queen Kong, as narrator constantly poke fun at the stupid things selfish people do and the ridiculous contradictions in people's attitudes and behaviours to illustrate the absurdity of life on earth as it is practiced today, even when compared to the fictionalised doings of a mythical, immortal, timeless, non-linear, non-binary, part-mineral-type ape floating through the vacuum of space.

There is so much humour written into the show - politics and religion being just two of the sacred cows Queen Kong has the unflinching satirical resolve to throw into the spotlight for a firm lambasting, before moving on to her next target – but much of what makes “The Legend” so funny is Sarah Ward’s acting chops as a cabaret performer, dancer, singer and simply as a delightfully comedic person.

In addition to Ward’s great performance and the band’s flawless live playing, there is also a consistent audio-visual element to the show projected onto a screen behind the band, which features visual effects and also manages to bring more humour to the already hilarious show.
The HOMOsapiens provided all the music and sound effects for the 70-minute-long show using only live musical instruments and electronic equipment – a considerable feat when one considers the array and variety of sounds and songs these talented musicians and technicians had to produce.

“The Legend of Queen Kong: Episode II In Outer Space” was a rocking, constantly funny, engaging and musically satisfying night of cabaret theatre. It’s on, appropriately, at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Space Theatre, until June 23.