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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

King Of Hearts: A Royal Satire
Written by Alistair Beaton


The Out Of Joint Theatre Production
Justin Salinger, Jeff Rawl, Caroline Loncq, Anthony O’Donnell, Zahra Ahmadi, Ben Righton, Christian Brassington, Alister Cameron,
Roddy Maude-Roxby, Toby Dantzic

The Liverpool Playhouse
Tuesday April 3rd, 2007

 
King Of Hearts 2007 promotional image

KING OF HEARTS
written by
Alistair Beaton

REVIEWED

Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official website


So, what would happen if Prince William, on succeeding to the throne, has fallen in love with a Muslim? That’s the pretext of Alistair Beaton’s play, King Of Hearts, which sees a fictional Prince Richard (Righton) fall for Nasreen (Ahmadi), a lowly community aid worker.

Of course the political fall out is almost as immense as the political gain, which both Prime Minister Nick (Salinger), an obsequious toad to rival even the slimy nature of Mister Blair, and opposition leader, Stephen (Rawl), a yes man of true-blue invisibility, take full advantage.


King of Hearts stage shot 1Add security cock-ups, a drunken second in line, a faithful family retainer and a press secretary who simply wants to be on the winning side, and there is a recipe for success. The “what if” scenarios leap out and beg to be answered.

Beaton has created a fast paced show, with performances delivered with slick – and often difficult – dialogue by an excellent cast. You’ll know all the faces, but won’t be able to pin any of them down to one particular show.

Stealing the night is Anthony O’Donnell in the role of chief royal security officer – or bungling, over-armed idiot if you prefer. His timing is exemplary and his delivery immaculate, as he fudges one crisis after another without seeming to care a damn.

The other performance of note comes from Roddy Maude-Roxby as The Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, who feels that Richard should marry if he wants to, because he’s starting to doubt whether the Church of England is all its cracked up to be.

King of Hearts stage shot 2In fact to single out just two of the performers is unjust. Salinger and Rawl are tailor made for their roles, with Salinger being all Rowan Atkinson over-the-top exaggeration, and Rawl as his mindless stooge until the denouement.

Where it all falls down, however, is in two areas. Number one is that the farce element – an assistant press secretary being filmed via mobile in a compromising Gay tryst with the leader of the opposition – is all too predictable and easily solved.

King of Hearts stage shot 3Secondly, just when Richard abdicates the throne and the audience are wondering where the play is headed, so it stops and becomes a series of monologues delivered by each member of the cast. Cleverly worded they may be, but it’s a bit of a cop-out, nonetheless.
Overall, this is an enjoyable, slick and well-crafted play that has a lot going for it. It’s just a pity it lets itself down when the opportunity for a real message for the future of the monarchy could have been driven home. A little less reliance on the slapstick element and little more on substance, might have made the play a whole lot better.
7/10

Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official website
www.everymanplayhouse.com


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