With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations just behind us, what better time to premiere a show about Her Majesty with The Throne. The Throne takes us back to the Golden Jubilee in 2002. The backdrop is the opening, of a new Science building at a school in Dudley. The twist begins when Her Majesty, the Queen, performed by Mary Roscoe, is challenged by the Head of Science, Derek Jones (Charlie Condou), a staunch republican, who chooses to use a Portaloo, built in the school hall for the Queen’s own use. The two end up trapped in it, unable to escape due to a bomb, they discovered underneath the floorboards. A reality that offers the two an opportunity to debate opposing views and trace similarities. The backdrop is bizarre yet lend itself to wit and comic situations.
Essentially, it is a debate that would surface where republicans meet royalists. The inconceivable scene that leads to the discussion is a mere facade to the crux of the play, namely debating the pros and cons of keeping the Royal family. The playwright, John Goldsmith, does not take sides but leaves the audience to determine.
The lines are mildly funny and witty, but the characters come to life in the second part and even there, the centerpiece is the debate rather than any dramatic narrative.
Roscoe’s performance as the Queen is delightful, using heightened mannerisms and changing her voice to strengthen the comedic elements. Moreover, her subtle and strong reactions to insults directed at the monarchy allow the audience to understand exactly what she is thinking despite her composed attitude. Unfortunately, although the comedic elements came to life well, there was not a roar of laughter from the audience throughout the play but rather several laughs at specific moments.
The set design is impressive, in particular the reflected school hall, creating a sense of intimacy, that reminded me of my school assemblies. A nice touch is self-portrait paintings on the wall as well as the Union Jack flags hanging above the audience and around the set, which was entertaining to see the Headmaster, played by Michael Joel Bartelle, attempt to clean and straighten them in a rush to prepare for the Queen. Additionally, while subtle, the lighting was fantastic. The lights at the bottom of the Portaloo set the tone for the conversation taking place on stage. Likewise, the light shining from Her Majesty’s purse allowed for a comedic moment as the audience wonders what it is that’s inside.
Overall, this was an enjoyable play, I felt like I had learned about the British Monarchy and there were some excellent comedic moments. Despite the good pacing of dialogue and writing, the characters and the comedy were overshadowed by a political debate. While the second act allowed for more emotional moments and character development, I would have liked to see more in-depth character-related discussions.
- Playwright: John Goldsmith
- Director: Anthony Biggs
- Set & Costume Designer Gregor Donnelly
- Photo Tristram Kenton
- Cast includes: Charlie Condou, Mary Roscoe, Michael Joel Bartelle
- Charing Cross Theatre
- Until: 30th July 2022
- Running time: 1 hour 45 including 1 x 20-minute interval
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