Prince Philip supposedly coined the word ‘dontopedology’ in describing his talent for ‘opening one’s mouth and putting one’s foot in it’, and in this free show at Espionage, George Telfer takes us through some of his gems in a broadly entertaining forty-five minute monologue that was as much an accomplished comic performance as impression.
From his birth in Greece to meeting Princess Elizabeth for the first time (which, apparently, he remembers nothing about), up until the present day, Telfer channels what makes Philip – love him or hate him – so immensely watchable. He quips away with one liners, and captures the strange vocal rhythm and poise of the now 90-year old Duke of Edinburgh who, when talking with Aboriginal elders in 2002, asked out of the blue “Do you still throw spears at each other?”
But Steve Haythorne’s script, which reads almost like a eulogy to the prince, is a little lacking in drama. This is more a light-hearted look at the man in the royal limelight, not an in depth treatise on his motivations and beliefs. The portrayal of the duke is hardly even-handed: here Philip believes he is “the most misunderstood man in the country”. Complaining about how the public are more interested in his gaffes than his many royal engagements, Philip runs off a list of the many charities of which he is patron, and it figures more like a telling off than a light-hearted jab at the British press (who he insists on calling “reptiles”). Still, when Telfer goes off script and interacts more with the audience, it’s a joy, and makes for lovely bit of comic theatre in this royal year.