King Of Hearts

Written by Alistair Beaton, Directed by Ramin Gray and Max Stafford-Clark
Liverpool Playhouse (3rd-7th April 2007)

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This political/royal satire concerning the machinations of power in Britain’s near future, borders on slapstick comedy. Subtle it ain’t.

This production by Out Of Joint is littered with lazy stereotypes. For example, Tony Blair alias Nick (Justin Salinger) is a lying vain toad and a poodle to USA President Hillary Clinton; the Archbishop of Canterbury alias Marcus (Roddy Maude-Roxby) is dozy, vague, out of touch with the real world; Blair's advisor Annie (Caroline Loncq) is a loud and foul mouthed female Alastair Campbell; the opposition leader Stephen (Jeff Rawle) will do anything to get
back in government; Prince William alias Prince Arthur (Christian Brassington) and Prince Harry alias Prince Richard (Ben Righton) are both spoilt brats, and so on and so on.

Yes, a lot of the characterisations paraded here may be true but we know that already surely, so what is the point of it?

There are panic stations when the holders of power - vacuous and ego-led naturally -discover that the heir to the throne, Prince Arthur, is courting an Islamic woman, Nasreen (Zahra Ahmadi). The situation is made even more acute when the King is lying in a vegetative state, and hours from death, after falling from his horse. Richard wants to assume power with Nasreen as his Queen.

All hell breaks loose. What will Middle England think? How will the Church of England react to this bombshell? How will Islamic states react?

Important questions are raised but the play fails to elaborate enough on them. Soon after the beginning of the second act the plot runs out of steam, and you know where the storyline is heading for.

Beaton has wasted an opportunity to score some hard-hitting and scathing comments on the political inertia afflicting the country, and the senseless devotion by the masses to the parasites residing in Buckingham Palace.

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