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The Legend of King O’Malley

★★★★

The Legend of King O’Malley is a bold, energetic and over-the-top musical and a most welcome addition to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. After selling his soul to Mr. Angel (an incarnation of the Devil), Texan preacher King O’Malley ends up moving to Australia and becomes a Member of Parliament. Fighting for the rights of women and immigration, his stand against conscription leads to his political downfall.
 
A highlight of the show is the mix of musical styles that dominate the 2.5 hours of the show. From vaudeville to gospel to cabaret, the music is an integral part of the show. However, while the music played by Tom Pitts was well performed, the sound levels often overshadowed the vocals and dialogue, especially in the first act.
 
Presented by Don’t Look Away, a company who are dedicated to remounting classic Australian plays, the show, with a colourful theatrical design by Daniel Harvey and Zoe Rouse, is smartly directed by Phil Rouse and the cast of eight are all filled with an astounding energy. James Cook tackles the role of O’Malley with gusto, while Alex Duncan is an engaging presence as Mr. Angel who never leaves O’Malley’s side.
 
Written by Bob Ellis and Michael Boddy in 1970, The Legend of King O’Malley is still surprisingly relevant today. A riotous delight, it is a fascinating look into the early years of Australian politics and shouldn’t be missed.
 
BY MYF CLARK
 

The Legend of King O’Malley is playing at La Mama until April 20.