Kylah Thomson (bottom) as Bathsheba. With a beard Samuel the Prophet played by Daniel S. Kim, who also acts as Saul’s son Jonathan. In the white hat, Alex Strauss as Nathan the Prophet. In the red hat, Nigel Thompson as David. At the top, Jonathan Roe as King Saul. Photo courtesy of Susan G. Acheson

King David’s story lost in the telling

  • July 13, 2013

TORONTO - For there to be victory, theremust be a battle, says Nathan theProphet in A King’s Heart, theon-stage story of King David. Butin the musical directed by SusanG. Acheson, man’s battle withtemptation is just as dangerous as combat.

The play about the rise and fallof David, the shepherd destinedto be King of Israel and Judah,played at this summer’s 25thannual Toronto Fringe Festival.

The young shepherd isanointed by the Lord and Godpromises to show David mercyall the days of his life.

David helps the current king,Saul, find the light in his time ofturmoil. Now a soldier, Daviddefeats the Philistine championGoliath, becoming a hero to hispeople. Loved by Saul’s children,David built a covenant of brotherhoodand friendship with Saul’sson Jonathan. David’s popularitysurpasses Saul’s. And in the faceof jealousy, Saul’s love of Davidturns to hate.

When Saul dies, David turnsfrom man on the run to kingof his people. Yet, David givesinto lust and covets Bathsheba,another man’s wife, and sendsthat man to the battlefield wherehe dies.

In turn, God’s wrath uponDavid translates into the deathof David and Bathsheba’s firstson, his wives laying with hisneighbour for all to know andhis enemies having reason toblaspheme against him. ButDavid himself lives, as God keepsHis promise to show mercy.

This minimalist productionhad a cast of five and very fewprops, save a shepherd’s staff, theslingshot used to bring Goliathdown and a white screen toproject images to help set thescene. So in the intimate settingof the Factory Theatre, the playwas completely dependent onthe performances, vocal andotherwise.

Nigel Thompson plays thehumble, and sometimes comedic,David. As the best singer onstage, it’s easy to picture himbelting it out in a gospel solo.

Jonathan Roe plays Saul as aruler fraying at his royal seems.

Daniel S. Kim brings a playful,trustworthy and honourableJonathan to the stage.

Nathan the Prophet (AlexStrauss) is narrator to this tale.But with such a small cast, muchof David’s story had to be toldinstead of shown, leaving theproduction feeling long-winded,even during many of the balladsand solos.

The audience awoke whenthe only female actor walkedon stage. Kylah Thomson isBathsheba, the object of David’sdesire. And as an object, sheunfortunately never has a voicein this production. Her performanceis purely dance based, adelightful mix of contemporaryand belly dance.

This rags to riches to ruintale would have benefited frommultiple appearances from theaudience-favourite Bathseba, aswell as the comedic and playfulrelationship between David andJonathan.

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