'The King Of Taking' is the brand-new show from renowned, award-winning silly billy Thom Monckton.
The show pokes fun at the childishness of those in assumed power – showing just how out of touch one can become when all their work is done for them. It's a royally raucous hour of comedy making its Australian debut as part of Adelaide Fringe.
You are hereby summoned to the royal grounds, where this King callously barrels toward his own destruction. 'The King Of Taking' is perfectly choreographed chaos, featuring circus, mime, and character comedy.
There's even an element of audience participation in the show, but don't let that scare you off.
Thom Monckton chats about 'The King Of Taking'.
You created this show! Tell us about its inspiration and where the initial idea came from.
I created an act for an event Trygve Wakenshaw organised in Prague called 'Cabaret Bears Club'. The idea was to perform acts that are entirely unprepared. My idea was that I would unwrap a gift of wrapping paper, wrap it up with the wrapping paper, unwrap the gift to find more wrapping paper and wrap the gift up, and unwrap it to find more wrapping paper (etc). I liked how the act went and wanted to incorporate it into a show. Second inspiration was the phenomenon of unboxing. Why is this so popular? I think it’s curious. Third inspiration was a suit of armour in my friend’s from Gravity and Other Myths show 'Backbone'. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
For those new to you, how would you describe your performance style?
I make non-verbal visual theatre that’s so stupid it almost feels like it’s profound (but it’s not! It’s just stupid!).
What do you love most about the art of performing?
Oh, I don’t enjoy it at all. I got into the luxurious world of niche physical comedy purely for the money.
When it comes to creating a show from scratch, what’s the biggest challenge?
Making decisions from the world of infinite possibilities. That’s pretty much all the creative process is – and because it’s creative, the decisions often feel arbitrary. It can feel really taxing on the brain to be making what seem like arbitrary decisions every day for months and months!
You’re asking for audience members to be somewhat involved in ’The King Of Taking’. Tell us more!
Yes! We’re asking the audience to bring wrapped gifts (unwanted items welcome and encouraged). My character the King opens them during the show and I improvise with the objects so the audience has a big influence on what direction the show goes. It’s fun for everyone because I’m just as surprised as the audience as to what the gifts are.
Image © Melissa Banks
Why do you think this form of ‘audience participation’ is effective?
My previous show 'The Artist', I had a part in it where I brought an audience member up on stage. I don’t know why I made that part of the show. It was always ultimately fun I think, but I was just as terrified to pick an audience member as the audience was of being picked. I’m just not cut out for that level of boldness, but I do like it when an audience has some investment or personal commitment to a show. This is just a way of reminding the audience that live performance is special and this show that they’re seeing now at this moment in time is unique and will never be performed in the same way again and that they are an integral part of it, not in a general way, but in a specific, personal and immediate way.
When people leave ’The King Of Taking’, the ideal reaction/response is. . .
As a young audience member in Hong Kong said “I don’t know what that was, but I liked it”. Music to my ears. I want to be weird enough to be intangible, but entertaining enough to be a joyful experience nonetheless.
What are you looking forward to about returning to Adelaide Fringe? What about this festival appeals to you?
Festoons and old friends. I like how busy and happy it is. I like that I can go outside and wander around for five minutes and feel like I’ve socialised enough already. I like the different vibes of the different areas of the festival and the different types of people walking around being their best and worst selves.
'The King Of Taking' plays The Studio at Holden Street Theatres (Adelaide Fringe) 14 February-5 March.