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The Prisoner of Windsor

Published Monday 23 May 2011 at 11:02 by Paul Vale

Timing is everything with a comedy and nobody can fault Justin Butcher for penning a full-length play that satirizes the Royal Wedding within weeks of the big day itself. The plot, a burlesque of The Prisoner of Zenda, makes some arguably justifiable points about the nature of the British workforce at present and the stoicism of the immigrant population who inhabit these shores.

The ribald comedy satirizing the British royal family doesn’t really break new ground, but does offer some funny moments - particularly with Simon de Deney’s embittered Duke of Edinburgh and the tongue-in-cheek arrival of Geoffrey Rush to save the day.

There is some good material here but a woeful lack of structure that demotes the whole venture to the level of a particularly long Saturday Night Live sketch. Author Butcher may have rushed to meet a deadline but there is little here that appears time-sensitive, and it may well have benefited from a sympathetic dramaturg. As director, Butcher maintains pace but cuts too many artistic corners, and the piece might have been more successful in other hands.

The performances are as varied as the material, but there is some nice work from Stephen Guy Daltry as an unflappable Queen and Nick Malinkowski as Romulus, the immigrant gardener with the uncanny resemblance to the heir presumptive and a penchant for polemic debate. Phillippa Peak really hits the spot with her lethal though affectionate portrayal of Kate Middleton, and John Sheerman is perfect as the shy, stammering Prince Wills.

Production information

Leicester Square Theatre, London, May 15-June 11

Justin Butcher
Justin Butcher
Leicester Square Theatre and Passion Pit Theatre
Simon de Deney, Stephen Guy Daltry, Damian Kell, Nick Malinkowski, Rupert Mason, Phillippa Peak and John Sheerman
Running time:
2hrs 15mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014