Tag Archives: Ciaran Owens

The Windsors

The Windsors: Endgame

★★★

Prince of Wales Theatre

The Windsors

The Windsors: Endgame

Prince of Wales Theatre

Reviewed – 10th August 2021

★★★

 

“There is no denying, however, the zest, energy, and electricity on the stage”

 

The Royal Family has long been prey for satirists; ever since they stopped chopping your head off for disrespectful behaviour. From eighteenth century paintings, in literature, the press; through to today’s many outlets on the small and big screen and on stage. It is only expected, and to their credit, the Royals accept it now and often go along with it. ‘Spitting Image’ aside, the most successful place them in an alternative scenario. Sue Townsend’s ‘The Queen and I’ deprives the House of Windsor of its royal status and makes them live like normal citizens, while Mike Bartlett’s sharply observant play, ‘King Charles III’, centres on the accession of King Charles and the dissolving of parliament.

“The Windsors: Endgame” follows suit with its ‘what if’ premise, although the writers George Jeffrie and Bert Tyler-Moore tackle the subject with blunter instruments. But what is lacking in nuance is made up for in humour and topicality. I confess to not having watched any of the Channel Four television series that spawned the stage transfer, but understand that the fiction was based around real life events. On stage at the (appropriately) Prince of Wales Theatre, reality seems to be constantly wandering off, only stopped short of disappearing completely by the numerous topical gags that fire through the script.

The Queen has abdicated, and Prince Charles finally gets his hands on the crown. Not without giving us a song first. Harry Enfield clearly relishes the role of the deluded Charles, with echoes of Alan Bennett’s ‘Madness of King George’. Tracy-Ann Oberman’s Camilla is one of the highlights, a mix of Cruella de Ville and Lady Macbeth. Matthew Cottle opens the evening as Edward, throwing in jokes about his stint as Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s production assistant (tea-boy). We are rapidly introduced to pretty much the whole household thereafter. It obviously focuses on Wills and Harry, Kate and Meghan; but Fergie, Andrew, Beatrice and Eugenie are all in the writers’ sightline. The feuds are as exaggerated as the characterisation and the jokes are presented with a fanfare that makes them impossible to miss.

The lack of subtlety places Michael Fentiman’s production in pantomime territory. Albeit not one for all the family. But profanity and sexual innuendo cannot really disguise the predictability of the jokes. Unfortunately, what it does disguise, even dismantles, is the potential cleverness of the plot. But then again, I am obviously missing the point and I concede gracefully, being surrounded by a packed house that is lapping up every moment.

And it has to be admitted there is a lot to cherish here, and once you’re in the mood you start enjoying it as much as the cast are. Kara Tointon and Crystal Condie are delightful as the sparring Kate and Meghan; matched by Ciarán Owens and Tom Durant-Pritchard as Wills and Harry, torn between love and duty and family responsibility (throwing in a bit of accidental wife-swapping too!). The characters on the side-lines are the more interesting: Sophie-Louise Dann is a wonderful Fergie, ultimately standing by Tim Wallers’ naughty but nice cad Andrew; while Jenny Rainsford and Eliza Butterworth are great fun to watch as Beatrice and Eugenie.

Less fun are the impromptu musical numbers which crop up incongruously, and merely serve to repeat many of the jokes that are already in danger of being wrung dry. There is no denying, however, the zest, energy, and electricity on the stage. Try as you might to find fault, you cannot help giving in eventually, and breaking into a reluctant smile. That’s when you realise you are way behind the rest of the audience who have been smiling from the start. Even if The Windsors aren’t for you, give them a break. You’re probably the odd one out.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Marc Brenner

 


The Windsors: Endgame

Prince of Wales Theatre until 9th October

 

Previously reviewed this year by Jonathan:
Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament | ★★★★ | Online | February 2021
Bklyn The Musical | ★★★★★ | Online | March 2021
Remembering the Oscars | ★★★ | Online | March 2021
The Picture of Dorian Gray | ★★★★ | Online | March 2021
Disenchanted | ★★★ | Online | April 2021
Abba Mania | ★★★★ | Shaftesbury Theatre | May 2021
Cruise | ★★★★★ | Duchess Theatre | May 2021
Preludes in Concert | ★★★★★ | Online | May 2021
You Are Here | ★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | May 2021
Amélie The Musical | ★★★★ | Criterion Theatre | June 2021
Bad Days And Odd Nights | ★★★★★ | Greenwich Theatre | June 2021
Express G&S | ★★★★ | Pleasance Theatre | June 2021
Forever Plaid | ★★★★ | Upstairs at the Gatehouse | June 2021
Forgetful Heart | ★★★★ | Online | June 2021
Staircase | ★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | June 2021
The Hooley | ★★★★★ | Chiswick House & Gardens | June 2021
Be More Chill | ★★★★ | Shaftesbury Theatre | July 2021
Heathers | ★★★ | Theatre Royal Haymarket | July 2021
The Two Character Play | ★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | July 2021
My Night With Reg | ★★★★ | The Turbine Theatre | July 2021
Big Big Sky | ★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | August 2021

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Tumulus
★★★★

Soho Theatre

Tumulus

Tumulus

Soho Theatre

Reviewed – 18th April 2019

★★★★

 

“it grips its audience immediately and has us on the edge of our seats”

 

It’s a Saturday night in April and Anthony is in a flat with eight or so other men that he doesn’t remember the names of. They have been going for eighteen hours – they’re high but not as high as they’ll be by the 36th hour or the 72nd. The twenty minute taxi ride to this flat was enough to start the sound in Anthony’s head, a sound that begins with ticking and then overwhelms. This is what he takes the drugs for to stop hearing. Also to feel his body moving from bone to cartilage. But tonight’s trip holds a surprise. The ghost of George, a young man and former flame of Anthony’s walks across his vision. His body was found the day before on the Tumulus, Hampstead Heath. The police said it was an overdose, that it isn’t even worth investigating. George, in ghost form, tells Anthony he has been murdered. George makes a deal with Anthony. Find my necklace and with it the killer, and I’ll stop the sound in your head. So our thriller begins.

The narrative, written by Christopher Adams, is funny at times, darkly awful at others. The thriller genre is a really original way to investigate the dark underside of the gay chemsex culture, and the dismissive police response to the death of young gay men in a society riddled with homophobia.

Ciaran Owens delivers a strong and convincing Anthony, playful and desperate and driven by something beyond his control. He is joined by Ian Hallard and Harry Lister Smith who create the many characters Anthony meets along his journey. Lister Smith embodies the young boys who go from lovers to victims, and Hallard competently alternates between cheery dog walkers, sinister villains and therapists, all ably directed by Matt Steinberg.

Both Hallard and Lister Smith, in their various guises, wear microphones that echo and distort their voices and lend them a disconcerting plurality. They create a soundscape of audio through objects held against microphones, reminiscent of a radio play made visible (sound design by Nick Manning). Set design (Alison Neighbour) is simple and effective, and Anthony paints the picture for us, making the table and cabinets chameleons in the space.

It isn’t a perfect production – there are moments that feel clumsy and unpolished – but it grips its audience immediately and has us on the edge of our seats, rooting for Anthony’s mission and, in turn, for George and the queer men, murdered but dismissed by the police, that he represents.

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Darren Bell

 


Tumulus

Soho Theatre until 4th May

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Pickle Jar | ★★★★★ | October 2018
Cuckoo | ★★★ | November 2018
Chasing Bono | ★★★★ | December 2018
Laura | ★★★½ | December 2018
No Show | ★★★★ | January 2019
Garrett Millerick: Sunflower | ★★★★ | February 2019
Soft Animals | ★★★★ | February 2019
Angry Alan | ★★★★ | March 2019
Mouthpiece | ★★★ | April 2019
William Andrews: Willy | ★★★★★ | April 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com