Busted flush: The Throne @CharingCrossThr
There appears to be a fascination with the bathroom habits of the Royal Family. In Melbourne, Australia, you can visit the royal bathroom at the Arts Centre in Victoria that the Princess of Wales refused to use. Or there is the toilet at the V&A in South Kensington built for Queen Victoria. Perhaps it is the great leveller. After all, everyone has to do it… And with that in mind, we are presented with The Throne by John Goldsmith, currently playing at Charing Cross Theatre.
The premise is that the Queen is locked in a bathroom with a republican. Two hours watching the Queen in a lavatory might not be everyone’s idea of a night out at the theatre. But it sounds like it could be funny. But this is a gentle comedy that has the purpose to put a republican and the monarch on a debate over British history.
The prominence of the bathroom is slightly jarring when you enter the Charing Cross Theatre, and audiences should be prepared to be looking at a urinal for the whole evening. Fortunately, we are spared any toilet jokes and instead given a few other little touches such as the Queen exclaiming, “How Thoughtful!” When seeing someone left Floris hand soap.
With the two leads, it is an awfully civilised debate. Charlie Condou as the grumpy science teacher, Dr Jones and Mary Roscoe as her majesty give the piece a lighter touch. It’s not a regal performance, and often it’s like a mother telling off a naughty subject / child. But the two play off each other well and keep the piece alive, even if the piece pulls it punches and goes for predictability.
There’s also a terrorist plot. You have to suspend disbelief that after the police and security sweeping and securing a location, a terrorist was able to plant a bomb. And so republican and monarch are trapped together in a bathroom to argue and debate while fearing for their lives.
Terrorism attacking your head of state, even if they aren’t elected one, does not make for a witty night out. A simpler premise about the monarch being trapped with a pleb might have been funnier. And there isn’t much to learn about monarchs and republicans either. But the performances keep things light evening if the tone of the piece isn’t quite right and the setting a tad too realistic.
Directed by Anthony Biggs, The Throne is at Charing Cross Theatre until 30 July.
Photos by Tristram Kenton