With a script and songs by Desmond O’Connor, this new musical tells the tale of the legendary night that TV superstar, Kenny Everett and rock god, Freddie Mercury dressed Lady Diana, Princess of Wales as a man and smuggled her into notorious London gay venue The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Touching on themes of friendship, celebrity and drug use, Royal Vauxhall is a masterwork by a talented writer performed by a fabulous cast.
Royal Vauxhall is an excellent addition to the musical genre and a wonderful tribute to three very misunderstood figures in pop culture history.
Sarah-Louise Young first appears on stage as the late Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher as part of a prologue chorus that sets the timeframe and mood of the show. Matthew Jones stands next to her in standard builders garb and the trio is rounded out by Tom Giles as a typical 80’s yuppie. Before long they have shed themselves of these bit parts and we are faced with Diana, Everett and Mercury throwing barbed but affectionate insults across a game of Trivial Pursuit.
The dialogue is snappy and gives a real sense of what these larger than life characters might have been like behind closed doors and the songs are as fantastic as you’d expect from the talented O’Connor.
Unfortunately, from very early in the show, Giles’ headset mic suffers intermittent crackling and occasionally drops out entirely. At first the cast power through but eventually Young takes control and, entirely in character, leads the audience in an impromptu trivia game as Giles heads off to have his mic fixed. It’s a true moment of fringe anarchy that delights the audience and it genuinely adds something to the show; we’re all rooting for the cast and now feel like guests at a tres exclusive party. When Jones jokingly reminds Young of the fourth wall, she quips that it’s already badly in need of repair.
Giles returns triumphantly to the stage with his audio problems seemingly fixed but shortly after the action moves to the namesake of the show, the mic problems start again and continue through to the end of the performance. It’s a testament to the professionalism of the cast that they deliver such an engaging, moving and hilarious performance when they have been so badly let down by technical issues.
Royal Vauxhall is an excellent addition to the musical genre and a wonderful tribute to three very misunderstood figures in pop culture history. I think I can be certain that whatever went wrong the night I experienced the show will have been set right and you’ll be guaranteed a five star show.