Dick Lee’s “Beauty Kings”
Event: Dick Lee’s “Beauty Kings”
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Run: 6th July – 17th July 2011
Romp and Pageantry
Sex, lies, scandals…all within the context of a male beauty pageant.
What’s there not to be intrigued about this play?
Credit to Dick Lee and his team for coming up with such a scintillating premise for a play (with a great title to boot!), because I think that it would not be very difficult to market a play as intriguing to the layperson as this one.
It’s probably going to be one of the more commercial and easily-marketable local plays we’ve had in awhile.
Truth be told, “Beauty Kings” delivers with aplomb the two most important elements which make a local play successful – sex and comedy.
And boy did it deliver them in bucketloads.
Be forewarned, “Beauty Kings” markets itself as a male flesh parade and it delivers on all accounts.
There is the opening scene which features complete male back nudity, and another scene somewhere in the middle which also features the same.
This is not to mention the many gratuitous displays of the male form throughout the play.
Plenty to feast your eyes on, if that is your kind of thing.
Comedy-wise, “Beauty Kings” features some of the most laugh-out-loud lines you’d find anywhere, mostly in the form of clueless himbo Don (played by Eli T.).
Don was literally a one-liner machine, churning out hilarious line after another, and often drove the audience into fits of laughter.
But beneath the veneer of the sultry displays of masculinity and the impossibly funny moments, one finds that there is rather little substance to actually keep the play going.
In the way that beauty pageants typically glorify all that is superficial, for all its hilarity and entertainment value, “Beauty Kings” seemed to lack a certain sense of depth.
At times it almost seemed like it wanted to be a musical.
Almost like “A Twist Of Fate” for male beauty pageants, if you will…minus the songs.
And at a run-time of 2 hours 40 mins (which is the average duration of a full-length musical), “Beauty Kings” felt like it was an hour too long.
The issue I had was that there was insufficient conflict and tension within the play, and that the plot seemed to drag too long before gaining any form of traction.
As such, it was hard to generate any form of genuine sustained interest in the play.
Yes, we knew that Adam (played by Rodney Oliveiro) was on a mission to uncover something, but why did it take so long before he started to get anywhere?
It seemed like the play did not allow the audience to be emotionally involved in Adam’s quest to find out the truth, partly because there were few hints given throughout the majority of the play, other than the fact that he seemed to be an undercover journalist attempting to get the inside scoop on the organisers.
Karen Tan and Lim Yu Beng, great actors that they are, didn’t seem to have too much chemistry going on between them.
Karen Tan seemed to be a bit too motherly and lacked that seductive cougar-ish edge, and Lim Yu Beng seemed to lack that sinisterism, or that scheming, sordid edge that made you wonder how many dirty secrets he had actually kept.
And as a result, you didn’t really know whether to side with them or hate them.
Lastly, with regards to the audience voting gimmick – was it truly necessary and did it actually have any form of bearing or significance on the denouement of the play?
Or maybe I’m taking this all too seriously.
In the way that people watch beauty pageants to admire the superior exterior qualities of the contestants, perhaps we should appreciate “Beauty Kings” for being essentially a wonderfully entertaining and satisfying night of fun and laughter at the theatre.
Even if it might have only been skin deep.