Andy Howells visits Cardiff’s New theatre to witness Simon Nye’s comedy The Crown Jewels, now on a UK tour, following its West-End run.
Simon Nye’s The Crown Jewels opens the history books during the reign of King Charles II. The story follows Colonel Blood as he plans to carry out the greatest heist of all time and steal the Crown Jewels, prior to the King’s Jubilee celebrations.
Blood, accompanied by a team of misfits; Captain Perrot, Tom Blood Jr and the actress Jenny Blaine set the wheels of mayhem in motion. However, they soon find their mayhem matched with the combined madness of the keeper of the Crown Jewels, Talbot Edwards, his family and ultimately King Charles II himself.
Lifting the curtain with the phenomenal singing voice of Carrie Hope Fletcher as the Lady of the Bed Chamber. The scene is set as the King awakes from his slumber. Miss Fletcher’s dual role is paired with that of the feisty Elizabeth Edwards and frequently adds bursts of narrative in the form of song and comedy verse. Pitch perfect and precise, one admires how Miss Fletcher maintains a professional performance in the comedic presence of Mel Giedroyc and Al Murray while providing the musical icing on the comedy cake throughout the show.
Mel Giedroyc subtly balances physical comedy with performance in her roles of Mrs Edwards and the French Noblewoman. The latter’s exchange with The King on his possible dislikes of the French during the second act are timed to comedy perfection. This is only topped by Miss Giedroyc’s departure from the stage as she breaks the fourth wall and the opening moments of the next scene!
For those who have seen Al Murray in his stand-up persona, there is a real treat in store. Murray blurs the edges of acting to continually break the fourth wall in his dual role as the keeper of the Crown Jewels, Talbot Edwards and King Charles II. Both roles are a brilliant platform to show his diversity as a performer. Edwards arrogance and chauvinism towards his wife and daughter contrast brilliantly to The King’s love of women and over the top persona which hangs on projection and pronunciation.
As Murray’s King Charles rehearses his Coronation speech, he holds the audience in his grasp while asking for their opinion. When they respond, he insists on been addressed as “Your Majesty.” They oblige, and the laughs keep rolling as he addresses one audience member as “Swine Pig” and humorously scolds an accountant and a Logistics Expert for their chosen professions. Al Murray’s sharp and quick-witted performance delights us all.
Aidan McArdle (Colonel Blood), Ryan Lane (Captain Perrot) and Joe Thomas (Tom Blood Jr) also make a great comedy team as the would-be conspirators for stealing The Crown Jewels, while the brilliant Tanvi Virmani steals scenes as she joins the troop as devious actress Jenny Blaine and The Jailer. Adonis Siddique also has some lovely moments as King Charles footman and occasionally steps from the Kings shadow to bag his own laughs.
A regal riot with much double entendre and adult humour thrown in for good measure, The Crown Jewels is good old-fashioned fun and frolics at its very best.
The Crown Jewels continues at Cardiff’s New Theatre until October 7. For details visit the New Theatre website.