The Crown Dual
King’s Head Theatre
Reviewed – 14th March 2019
“Clarkson’s script lives up to the challenge, hilariously capturing the essence of the blockbuster series”
I must admit that I’m a huge fan of The Crown, and was beyond eager to attend The Kings Head Theatre to watch the new comedy based on the popular series. With season three of The Crown soon approaching, there couldn’t have been a better opportunity for Daniel Clarkson (playwright) and Owen Lewis (director) to present their ambitious production of The Crown Dual. The production promised to condense twenty episodes worth of royal content into a seventy-minute production, cleverly reimagining the story of how Elizabeth Windsor became Queen Elizabeth II. Fortunately, Clarkson’s script lives up to the challenge, hilariously capturing the essence of the blockbuster series by adding a humorous twist to the characters we’ve grown to know so well.
The story centres on Beth Buckingham (played by Rosie Holt), an aspiring actress and avid despiser of Claire Foy, who with the help of Stanley Diamond (Brendan Murphy) her idiotic agent, gets the opportunity to prove her rightful role as Elizabeth in the popular Netflix series. The two actors juggle the characters of the series perfectly, with Stanley playing every character imaginable, including Winston Churchill, Princess Margaret, Prince Philip, Peter Townsend and even the Queen’s favoured corgis. The show should be praised for its comedy value from the start, as the actors hilariously create the opening scene of The Crown. We watch as Beth prances around the stage, dressed in a black costume, twiddling green ribbons and flailing around to the haunting orchestral tune. Stanley interrupts Beth’s performance by holding a ‘skip’ sign, (an option that appears on Netflix) to an eagerly awaiting audience member who complies, therefore cutting Beth’s performance short and sending us all into fits of laughter.
The writing is meticulous in its attention to detail and appreciation of the well-known characters. In particular, Stanley’s portrayal of Winston Churchill was just brilliant. We watched as he amplified the characters mannerisms by laboriously travelling across the stage, dragging repetitively on his cigar and screaming about sticking to tradition and not breaking protocol in their meetings. This same appreciation should be given to both Beth and Stanley for recreating Princess Margaret’s character by reimagining scenes of her writing in her diary with a cigarette and drink in hand. We see Princess Margaret persistently slurping on her drink, declaring through every reading, ‘I’m drunk again.’
The actors really honed in on the series presentation of the Royal family, exaggerating certain characteristics and playing them to perfect comedy value. They persisted to break the fourth wall, calling upon lucky audience members to assist with different scenes from the TV show. There is often a tendency for audience participation to become quite awkward, but luckily that wasn’t the case.
The lighting (Robbie Butler) and sound (James Nicholson) complemented the performance perfectly, as did the simple yet effective costume design (Lee Newby). Although slightly mad, and at times a bit slow between scene transitions, this is a comedy that stands well on its own and will definitely also get you excited for the new series of The Crown.
Reviewed by Maddie Stephenson
Photography by Geraint Lewis
The Crown Dual
King’s Head Theatre until 7th April
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: