A mother’s touch: H.R. Haitch @TheUnionTheatre
If there is one thing to admire about H.R. Haitch, it is it’s impeccable timing. Opening at The Union Theatre on the week of the Royal Wedding could confuse people for thinking this musical comedy is a topical satire. Alas, it’s not. The piece premiered in 2015 as a workshopped performance. Three years on, with its convoluted plot, songs that stop the show dead and running gags that fall flat... It could do with a few more workshops.
For reasons that are unclear it’s set in a parallel universe in 2011. Mouthy common barmaid Chelsea (Tori Allen-Martin) meets secret prince Bertie (Christian James). They fall in love and plan to open a catering business. Until duty calls, and for reasons that are also unclear, he has to reveal his identity.
It’s hard to understand the romance. Chelsea comes across as a motherly figure to Bertie. But I guess it takes all sorts. She also says more about why she hates the royal family than anything else. But Tori Allen-Martin makes the most out of underwritten character with her strong vocals.
The rest of the cast try their hardest with what they’ve been given to work with. Christian James as the secret prince has a light tenor voice. Andrea Miller is funny in two roles. One as the sexting pensioner barmaid, the other as the foul-mouthed Queen. Emily Jane Kerr as the pantomime villain of the piece also has a few scene-chewing moments.
There’s also very convincing bar that looks like it’s been ripped from a local pub before its conversion into flats. But all told its a show that doesn’t work. The story makes little sense and the jokes fall flat.
Directed by Daniel Winder, H.R. Haitch is at The Union Theatre until 2 June.
Photos by Nick Rutter