Vikram and the Vampire
I will admit I was not sure what to expect when going to see "Vikram and the Vampire" presented by Zen Zen Zo Company, not having seen many Physical Theatre productions in the past, but as soon as I stepped into Studio 3 of the Old Museum Building on Gregory Terrace I felt completely immersed in the atmosphere of it all. The moment the audience were able to be seated the music started, Indian percussion and strings mostly, and with the haze of the smoke in the air there seemed to be a quite tranquilness about it, even with the entering crowd of people. Although the set was minimal, just a tree, some stairs and intriguingly placed costumes, everything was used exquisitely. Tiffany Beckwith-Skinner should be commended on the design as it drew me in instantly. As should lighting designer Ben Hughes because with just a few well-placed spots, coloured lights at different angles and the use of the shadowing effect he created a space that had the ability to be both creepy and serene simultaneously.
There seemed an almost effortless flow at times between the conversational scenes of Lizzie Ballinger’s Vetal and Sandro Colarelli’s King Vikram to the stories involved in the piece that were told by Vetal. There was great chemistry between these two actors, but in a parent/child capacity, however they switched back and forth between these roles throughout the play. It was a very interesting dynamic that on paper on would think that it would not work but was very effective in its use. Sandro Colarilli’s portal of the overtly arrogant King was quite brilliant and the way he changed himself in stature and presence from a pompous king to a shy young woman to a whole host of other characters was breath taking. Not to be out done by the child like exuberance given by Lizzie Ballinger’s Vetal for most of the play.
Although the play does centre around King Vikram and Vetal the ensemble play a pivotal role. It is through them the stories are told. The ensemble in this production was very skilled and kept up the high energy you would expect in such a play which made me feel exhausted just watching them. However they were all happy and content to come out and chat to people after the show. I want to make a special mention of the actors who played animals in this show especially Alex Forero who played a monkey early in the piece. The way he climbed the pillars and interacted with the ensemble was amazing. Also Liz Buchanan’s Myna Bird and Bryan Probets Parrot were a sheer delight and had moments of side splitting hilarity.
Now we get to the good bit, fighting! I love a good fight scene and personally I would have liked them to be slightly longer. They were well rehearsed, excluding a few minor timing issues in correspondence with the music, and they were pretty much on point. Fight Choreographer Earl Kim should be proud.
Director Michael Futcher and Co-Director Helen Howard have given us a fabulous show and should be extremely pleased with themselves as should everyone involved in this great show. After leaving the Old Museum I felt a mixture of emotions and that to me is the best way to feel after seeing something on the stage. Anybody that agrees with me should definitely go and see the amazing tale of "Vikram and the Vampire"