WhatsOnStage Logo

The Rise and Demise of Kenneth Kennedy-Smythe

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
WhatsOnStage logo

The Rise and Demise of Kenneth Kennedy-Smythe features the lives of two characters (Kenneth and Jennifer) who must make serious life choices whilst doing so explore and reveal to the audience, the power of the media during times of war.

The darkly comical political satire follows its eponymous protagonist Kenneth who is a correspondent for the BBC who finds himself publically silenced after expressing his disgust at the actions of the attackers.

His girlfriend, Jennifer, is a royal correspondent for the BBC whilst a keen social ladder climber. She finds herself caught up in a propaganda trap after being given a position of power. Her task is to detract the media away from war, a challenge which will test Kenneth and Jennifer's relationship immensely.

Darren John Langford showcases his array of comedic characters effortlessly, playing Kenneth without flaw. However whilst watching him portray the Queen my friend turned to me and commented saying that "he was beyond this". I agreed, after watching him tackling a character who had a mental disability in the soap Hollyoaks seeing him in the role of Kenneth didn't feel quite right.

Carly Tarett who portrays Jennifer has the unique quality of reflecting different sides of her character effectively. An impressive performance sees her toying with the decisions she should make, arguably in ways that aren't really that realistic yet provide some laugh-out-loud comedic moments. We see go from her nervously talking to the Queen to a drunken state in the back of a car. Her charm shadows the lack of opportunity her character unfortunately provided for her.

The tone of the production itself and the way that it was delivered is far too silly for the subject matter. If you find overly exaggerated and arguably, cringe worthy impersonations funny then this production will be for you. I know many people may disagree with me as at times different pockets of people would laugh at different comedic elements of the production.

One moment that unified the audience in laughter would be when Kenneth freezes Jennifer in the middle of a drunken performance, her frozen expression provoking laughter from each and every member of the audience. It was original moments like these that shone out against the rest of the narrative.

The fractured construction of the play was also a disappointment. The erratic transitions between scenes were hard to follow especially with the scenes of choice. I feel that if the hyper attitude the play emitted were to be toned down it would have been more successful in sending its intended message.

In all honesty it all depends on what kind of sense of humour you have. But for me, it should have been more serious to work.

- Elise Gallagher