It’s all gone a bit ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ over at the Rose Theatre Kingston. Its festive show features a remarkably lifelike, hulking, hairy real-sized gorilla. Oh, and he talks. With the voice of Brian Blessed.
Gor the gorilla is part of the story of young orphan Sunny who runs away to the struggling Marigny circus, where he discovers the prodigious primate locked up in the back yard.
More than a few of the plot points in the show remain a vague: why does Gor talk? And why has no one else heard him chatter before Sunny arrived? It’s as if Bor Productions decided they really wanted to have a show with an animatronic gorilla and a show with lots of circus acts and then built a watery story that combined the two.
The plot is diluted further with regular lengthy ‘rehearsal’ scenes for the circus acts. These are rather clunkily strongarmed into the story, but there’s no denying they are entertaining. There’s a daredevil trapeze duo who cavort very high up, a trio of backflipping Zimbabwean acrobatics and a contortionist who will make you wonder how her back hasn’t simply snapped.
When Gor gets his moments onstage, Blessed’s mellifluous tones embellish the gorilla with a touch of magic while actor Dominic Leeder’s movements inside the suit bring real emotion and life to the beast.
The production itself also looks great and David Shields’s designs, with the roof of a big top tent hanging over the stage, bring to life an old-style circus with Gypsy caravans and colour.
This is a family show with a lot of heart, and though it’s a pity all the elements aren’t brought together in a better story, the show still provides a big chest-thump of fun.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell