The Man Who Would Be King
  • By Isla VT
  • |
  • 2nd Aug 2014
  • |
  • ★★★★★

Dawn State’s sharp, modern adaptation of Kipling’s classic novella could be deemed a classic in itself. The two actors, who play a plethora of parts, powerfully weave together the scenes of this intensely gripping story. They direct their address at the invisible character of the Colonel, who is meant to be seated in the audience. The exciting plot blossoms to life through the use of original music, ambient sound effects, bold physicality, inventive manipulation of set and props, and the distinct and consummate performances of each character. In a ramshackle, dimly-lit military office in the Middle East, we encounter Peachy Callahan (Dan Nicholson, injured and with his clarity of mind ebbing away from him. An officer (Christopher Birks) forces Peachy to relay the tale of his adventures with Daniel Dravot (also Birks) which led to their rise as kings of Kafiristan and their subsequent ruin. The remarkable, potent dialogue and compelling characterisation carry the plot along at a riveting pace from military offices and Middle Eastern marketplaces to the heart of remote villages in Kafiristan.

The chemistry between the two actors in their roles as Peachy and Dravot was thoroughly enjoyable to watch, and both actors demonstrate great ability and range in their first-rate performances.

Both actors excel in their portrayals of different characters, making each one equally engaging and credible - a laudable feat indeed. Birks and Nicholson command the audience’s complete attention, captivating us and pulling us into Peachy and Daniel’s prodigious endeavours. At no point did the credibility of their performances waver; at no point was I not utterly enthralled.

The use of music and song is a beautiful compliment to the sterling performances of the cast, adding a chilling ambience to the show. The chemistry between the two actors in their roles as Peachy and Dravot was thoroughly enjoyable to watch, and both actors demonstrate great ability and range in their first-rate performances. There was never a dull moment during this play. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to pass a thrilling and highly engrossing hour at the Fringe.  

Reviews by Isla VT

Assembly Roxy

Calypso Nights

★★★★★
Just The Tonic at the Caves

Shooting the White Eagle

★★★★
C venues - C nova

We Never Land

★★★★
Greenside @ Nicolson Square

Unprescribed

★★★★
C venues - C nova

The Devil Without

★★★★
Gryphon@WestEnd

Odd Shaped Balls

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Dawn State’s pulsating tale of greed, adventure and ruin rips up Kipling’s classic mercenary yarn to interrogate Britain’s place in the world today. Two actors combine searing text, bold physicality and original music to tell the story of Peachy Callahan and Daniel Dravot, soldiers-for-hire amidst the shifting borders of the Middle East. Tired of the mercenary life, Peachy and Daniel have come up with a plan: head to northern Afghanistan, enslave the natives and install themselves as kings. Thrilling, contemporary theatre, nominated for Les Enfants Terribles Award 2014.