Review: King

An intimate portrait of a man keeping inner demons at bay

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Pat Kinevane
Photo by Maurice Gunning
Published 25 Aug 2023

Pat Kinevane returns to Dancebase with his fifth one-man show at the studios. King is a searing portrayal of a middle-aged man called Luther from Cork, who is managing to cope just so as he quietly fights to keep his demons at bay. The play is set over a single-day, going through his routine of visiting his father and getting ready for a gig which could turn into a potential date. 

The name for the show is a quietly subversive constant throughout. We hear the voices of Luther’s inner demons talk about the history of the British Crown’s occupation, how the protagonist got his name from Martin Luther King and how he portrays an older version of the King (Elvis) every night to pay his father’s health bills. The stage props are all a deep purple, the colour of royalty, of course, but also perhaps a look into the compulsive mind of Luther. 

The show could be shortened and sometimes the flow gets muddled in the many different ideas it's trying to explore. The big ideas about shared histories between different communities teeter a fine line between insightful and awkward but is by and large successful, if not explored fully.

Yet it feels like a privilege to watch the Olivier award-winning Kinevane at work. He is a captivating performer, spending a lot of the play’s duration just centimetres away from the audience, talking to us as if we were some acquaintances from inside his head. He captures the pathos of personal and shared histories in Luther, especially during the Argentine tango sections, surely the most sadly beautiful dance.