Mock Tudor

On paper, this looks like a good show: everyone involved has pretty impressive credits to their name and the concept is the sort of thing that’s fantastic when it's done well. But this isn't. For some reason, no aspect of the show lives up to the potential that can be seen glinting through the cracks. The problem is the direction.

The pickups are too slow to allow the comedy to really flow and there doesn't seem to be much chemistry between the actors, which is a problem when so much depends on a sense of camaraderie between them.

The show follows the fortunes of a small re-enactment group charged with entertaining visitors to Hampton Court Palace. Their seedy manager wants to replace them with a Google Glass 'experience', unless they can pull off a really great show. Bubbling under the surface there’s a love story, a budding acting career, and some thematic content about the problems of technology replacing people.

It should be funny. Some of it is funny. It has some nice running jokes and some funny character performances (special mention goes to Fraser Millward as the duplicitous Kent). It did make me laugh at least twice, and the gradual build up to the farcical denouement very nearly works. But somehow, the whole thing manages to fall flat. The pickups are too slow to allow the comedy to really flow and there doesn't seem to be much chemistry between the actors, which is a problem when so much depends on a sense of camaraderie between them.

Lily Bevan, who also wrote and directed the show, is certainly the strongest thing in it. In her own mouth, her dialogue really takes wing and we get a sense of what it ought to be. She’s genuinely funny; perhaps she’s just less adept at conveying to her cast how to draw out the humour undoubtedly there in the script. For whatever reason, though, the show as it currently stands is an exercise in wasted opportunity.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Welcome to Hampton Court Palace. The year is 1533. Please turn off your mobile phones. Jess, Sophie and Sam re-enact Henry VIII's weddings, feasts and river pageants. They take pride in authenticity. Well, they try. They aren't sure if potatoes exist yet. Can you wear glasses with a kirtle? Now visitor operations have ideas about the future of the past - it has never been more vital to keep the Tudors alive. From the writer of Stephen and the Sexy Partridge, Trafalgar Studios: 'One of the funniest offerings in the West End this season' (Stage).

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