The Mongol Khan

Rating: ★★★★
Venue: London Coliseum

Mongolia 2000 years ago. A brutal succession battle threatens the very stability of the Empire. As the great Khan struggles to maintain his supremacy, a plot hatches that will forever alter the balance of power.

Mongolia’s leading theatre company comes to the UK for the very first time with a lavish production which explores the evolution of ancient Mongolian culture and features an ensemble of over 70! This gripping story is brought to life with a stunning original score, dance and puppetry, with elaborate sets and costumes all inspired by the traditional nomadic culture of the Hunnic Empire.

"A spectacle like the West End has never seen."

With an ensemble of 70 performers taking the iconic raked stage at the London Coliseum, it's difficult to describe how visually appealing this show truly is. The largest theatre in London's West End proves the perfect home for this masterpiece, with the entire cast fitting comfortably on the huge stage.

This production is based on the play, "The State Without a Seal" and is set 2,000 years ago in Mongolia. It follows the story of the Khan, who has recently become a father to two sons from two separate women. He's had no intimacy with his wife for years, so he's certain one of the babies isn't his. In a cruel twist of fate, the babies are switched and the Khan must make difficult decisions as to who inherits the empire. It's full of mystery, intrigue, ruthlessness, brutality and secrets.

If you're unfamiliar with the story, I would recommend reading The Mongol Khan graphic novel beforehand, mainly as the entirety of the production is in Mongolian. While English subtitles are displayed throughout the theatre, they do move incredibly fast and it can be difficult to keep up with the story, as well as what's happening on stage. However, the translation from John Man and the adaptation by Timberlake Wertenbaker is exceptional.

The principal cast is small but powerful. The show-stealer for me was Uranchimeg Urtnasan as the Queen. Her portrayal was both heart-breaking and captivating. As an audience member, you experience the depth of every emotion alongside her. In sharp contrast to this, Dulguun Odkhuu, offers a child-like naivety to the role of the Consort. She's young and trusting, and Odkhuu plays this perfectly.

The puppetry from Nick Barnes and Scarlet Wilderink is sensational, and the production offers some of the best puppetry work I've seen since Life of Pi. The costumes from Bold Ochirjanstan are also more than worthy of a mention. There are hundreds of costumes within this play, and each one adds something unique to the performance, which is quite astonishing to witness.

The Mongol Khan is a spectacle like the West End has never seen. It's gritty, striking and makes choices that are both bold and unflinching. If you're looking for a night out like no other in London can offer, The Mongol Khan is the show for you. 

You can buy tickets to The Mongol Khan at the London Coliseum, until 2nd December, here.

**photography by Katja Ogrin**

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