Theatre Review – The King of Nothing – Little Angel Theatre  

Ben Glasstone’s charming, witty account of The Emperor Who Has No Clothes works well for two main reasons. First it is one of the most perceptive stories ever written, dealing as it does with vanity, self delusion, conformity and truth. It’s both topical and timeless. Second, we have a cost of living crisis and the gap between rich and poor is neatly pointed up in this show. Funny and entertaining as it is, there are some serious points just below the surface which some children will go away reflecting on.

Both accomplished actor/puppeteers, Gilbert Taylor and Katrina Garnett move seamlessly from actor roles to puppeted ones under Steve Tiplady’s imaginative direction. They start as swindlers, cheerfully boasting of their crimes (Garnett is quite a whizz on the ukulele) and then morph into puppeteers as they introduce other characters – with much sleight of hand and slickness. 

Garnett is an impressive ventriloquist and Taylor has fun being a full-sized human king wearing ridiculous clothes, as well as puppeting him. Both actors are very good indeed at different voices.

Alison Alexander’s puppets come in various formats (stick, glove and so on). The Keeper of the King’s Underwear is a particular triumph with his magisterial tremble and mitre-like hat which is formed from an inverted pair of underpants.

And so to the appearance of the (gently and tastefully) naked king at the parade. Who needs a little boy in the cast when you’ve got a whole audience of children who will spontaneously and delightedly bellow “He’s naked!”?  

Review by Susan Elkin