dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Princess Caraboo review at Finborough Theatre, London – ‘exceptionally entertaining’

Hilary Murnane, Oliver Stanley, Christian James, Nikita Johal, Althea Burey in Princess Caraboo at the Finborough Theatre, London. Photo: Scott Rylander Hilary Murnane, Oliver Stanley, Christian James, Nikita Johal, Althea Burey in Princess Caraboo at the Finborough Theatre, London. Photo: Scott Rylander
by -

The true story of servant Mary Baker’s masquerade as the exotic Princess Caraboo makes an amusing footnote in English history.

Phil Willmott’s engaging musical uses this story to explore themes of class, gender and social identity while maintaining a playful respect for the post-Napoleonic War period. The music, written with Mark Collins, favours a lively modern/jazz blend and there are several lusty ballads, which lend depth to the romantic sub-plot.

Willmott’s witty book frames the narrative as an amateur scientific lecture, although there is nothing dry or dusty about this presentation. In fact an overwhelming sense of bonhomie permeates, generated by bombastic villains, a kindly country squire and a simple heroine fooling everybody in an attempt to make something of her life.

Touching and often downright hilarious performances from Oliver Stanley, Phil Sealey and Sarah Lawn help flesh out Willmott’s whimsical vision of a Merry England. Christian James as Eddie and Nikita Johal in the title role seal the deal with a thoughtful but far-from formulaic romance.

Despite the limitations of space, Thomas Michael Voss infuses the action with some spritely choreography. In 2014, Willmott’s Lost Boy deservedly transferred to a larger stage and if there is any justice Princess Caraboo will do the same.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Exceptionally entertaining original musical, packed with memorable songs and fine comic performances
^