Tag Archives: Tracy-Ann Oberman

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

 

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Mother of Him

★★★★★

Park Theatre

Mother of Him

Mother of Him

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 24th September 2019

★★★★★

 

“Tracy-Ann Oberman is superb as Brenda, finding her way through a landscape of emotions in a devastatingly truthful arc”

 

Do you have to love your child, no matter what they have done? Can you? This is a play about what it means to be a mother, in particular, what it means to be the mother of a son who has done something terrible. Evan Placey has written a masterful and gripping examination of this question, set during the week leading up to the sentencing of Brenda’s son Matthew for the crime of rape. But Matthew is not the only son, he has an eight year old brother, Jason, and Brenda has to deal with his needs, her own distress, and a media siege outside her front door. Tracy-Ann Oberman is superb as Brenda, finding her way through a landscape of emotions in a devastatingly truthful arc, and bringing in delightful and unexpected humour at times. It’s a performance that had my friend and I in tears. We are both mothers of sons, and were both impressed that a young man could write such a complex, real woman with understanding, humanity and a lightness of touch. Because, while this is a play that challenges us to think and question, while it is a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, it is never heavy, never forced.

The action is set in 1998, before social media, so the press and television were absolutely in control of the narrative in any situation. Every time Brenda or Jason leave the house they pounce. This is only shown by off stage sound and lighting, a successful design decision that makes the house seem more and more like a prison as the story progresses. Matthew, played by Scott Folan, is probably not anyone’s idea of a rapist. he is young, gangly and defensive. A normal teenager. Folan never reveals too much, leaving us questioning why this boy man could have done what he did. He is sweet with his young brother Jason, delightfully portrayed by Matt Goldberg, one of two boys who share the role. We get the feeling of a real family, a single mother trying to keep some normality for her younger son, not knowing how to deal with the older one. The boy who has become a stranger, a kind of monster.

Simon Hepworth plays family friend and lawyer Robert Rosenberg, trying to help with the court case and trying to keep Brenda on an even keel. His reliability and patience balancing Neil Sheffield’s unreliable Steve, the long absent father of the boys who shows up late in the play. Anjelica Serra completes the cast, playing Matthew’s girlfriend Jessica, and Tess, the cleaner. None of the cast put a foot wrong and, although it is Tracy-Ann Oberman’s Brenda who is at the centre of the drama, everyone deserves an accolade.

The sound design includes radio broadcasts, and is a valuable evocation of the time beautifully created by Fergus O’Hare. Ali Hunter’s lighting and Lee Newby’s costumes and flexible set create a believable world, a home that’s now both a prison and a refuge from the outside world. The whole thing is drawn together and directed by Max Lindsay with a lovely sense of place and family. It is a triumph.

 

Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Bronwen Sharp

 


Mother of Him

Park Theatre until 26th October

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Cry Havoc | ★★ | March 2019
The Life I Lead | ★★★ | March 2019
We’re Staying Right Here | ★★★★ | March 2019
Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough | ★★½ | April 2019
Intra Muros | | April 2019
Napoli, Brooklyn | ★★★★ | June 2019
Summer Rolls | ★★★½ | June 2019
The Time Of Our Lies | ★★★★ | August 2019
The Weatherman | ★★★ | August 2019
Black Chiffon | ★★★★ | September 2019

 

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