Sometimes a play can end up in quite the wrong theatre and that sadly is what has happened to this quirky and funny comedy by John Goldsmith, his first stage play, about what happens when the Queen ends up sharing the royal facilities with a strange man. The time is today, the Queen (Mary Roscoe) has come t Dudley Goring Comprehensive school as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations. A portacabin containing a lavatory has been installed in the school gymnasium for the royal use as no royal bottom is allowed to sit where those of commoners have been. The science master Derek Jones (Charlie Condon), one of those rebels with too many causes, objects, falls out with the headmaster Peter Carr (Michael Joel Bartelle) over the facility and when his not wearing a tie becomes an issue he resigns. But left alone he goes to inspect the facility and is in there when the Queen decides she needs to retire. Unfortunately terrorists have installed a bomb and the pair are locked in the lavatory while the police try to deal with the matter and defuse the thing if they can find it. the encounter between Queen and subject is a delight with Mary Roscoe creating a splendidly pragmatic Elizabeth who by sheer force of personality turns the republican Charlie into something of an admirer as they face up to needing the loo, the issues of the day, what is in her handbag and whether she will let him smoke a cigarette and then join him in having a puff. Just how they get out is ingenious, the relationship that develops is charming and the performances are pitch perfect. Director Anthony Biggs has managed to get just the right touch for such a delicate soufle as it is a concoction which could easily have fallen flat.
This is lucky because the Charing Cross Theatre staging proves cavernous – the portacabin is vast when it needs to be a place that confines. The audience is also too far from the action. One needs to be right in there with the trapped twosome. It does not prevent what is a very gentle comedy from working but it also does it no favours.
In spite of a pretty ghastly wig Mary Roscoe is a delightand has captured the royal voice to perfection although she is possibly a little more spry than the real queen, while Condon is on of those men with ideas they keep telling to all who will listen and to all who try not to listen to perfection, nice but a pest. He may not be an action hero but he does work out how they can get out – if they open the door the bomb will go off – and she reveals just what is in that handbag.
Mysterious Figure: Steven Dean Moore.
Derek Jones PhD: Charlie Condon.
Her Majesty the Queen: Mary Roscoe.
Set & Costume Eesigner: Gregor Connelly.
Lighting Designer: Chuma Emembolu.
Sound Designer: Chris Drohan.