A Right Royal Farce, journalists-turned-playwrights Toby Young and Lloyd Evans’ latest comedy, opened last night (Monday 31 July 2006, previews from 20 July) at north London’s King’s Head Theatre See News, 6 Jul 2006).
Set immediately after the Queen’s death, A Right Royal Farce envisages a future in which Prince Harry makes a bid to be crowned king. Far from being the dim-witted party boy of popular imagination, Harry turns out to be a brilliant Machiavellian operator who enlists the support of his gorgeous girlfriend in an elaborate plot to steal the throne.
The cast, directed by Alan Cohen, includes Sara Crowe, Andrew C Wadsworth, William Hoyland and Tim Wallers. The play has a limited six-week season to 28 August 2006.
Overnight critics were far from impressed by the duo’s follow-up to their Whatsonstage.com Award-winning, David Blunkett-inspired Who's the Daddy?, seen last summer at the King’s Head. They said the new sex farce about the royal family lacked any structure, was predictable, and simply wasn’t funny.
Michael Coveney on Whatsonstage.com – “There are some shows, not many, that are dignified even by a bad review, and this embarrassing dud from Toby Young and Lloyd Evans – job-share drama critics on the Spectator and authors of last year’s equally appalling Who's the Daddy? – is one of them. It’s not even that members of the royal family would be upset by the defamatory nature of their representation; they would more likely feel slighted that so feeble an attempt to reveal them ‘as they really are’ is executed with such shallow contempt for the rules of farce…. Beyond limp one-liners, the writing has no structural energy, the scenes no impetus or the vaguest sense of farcical architecture…. I am sure Young and Evans in their professional capacities (one-and-a-half acts each?) have marvelled at See How They Run, one of the best farces London has produced in years. It makes you weep to think that they might feel they have nothing to learn from Philip King and Douglas Hodge’s production, but it wouldn’t surprise me.”
Michael Billington in the Guardian - “Lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place. Last year Toby Young and Lloyd Evans wrote a mildly amusing farce, Who's the Daddy?, about the sexual shenanigans at the Spectator. Now they have tried to repeat the format with the royal family and the result is an evening of laughter-free desperation. Even to summarise the inane plot requires a heroic act of will…. All farce depends on loss of dignity. But here, for instance, Prince Philip begins as a barking loony shouting at a group of visiting Africans ‘get back to your mud huts, you bunch of spear-chuckers’; which kills stone dead any potential humour in his transformation into a randy geriatric. Young and Evans fail to realise that farce is a strict discipline…. Actors one knows to be good such as Sara Crowe (Camilla), William Hoyland (Philip) and Tim Wallers (James Hewitt) are forced into more mugging than you'll find in Central Park after dark. Almost the only person to emerge with credit is Andrew C Wadsworth, who invests Prince Charles with an earnest, if unfulfilled, desire to be king.”
Benedict Nightingale in The Times - “A year ago Toby Young and Lloyd Evans brought their Who's the Daddy? to the King’s Head and proceeded to have some mildly tasteless, essentially harmless but often genuine fun at the expense of David Blunkett, Boris Johnson and that literary seraglio, the Spectator. Now it’s the royal family’s turn to be subjected to what I’d call their satiric swordsmanship, if there really was anything Swiftian or sharp in their new farce. Once again, this is mildly tasteless, essentially harmless; sadly, it is not as much fun…. The question is: is it silly-hilarious or just silly-silly? I did laugh at Sara Crowe’s cheerfully horsey Camilla, but, overall, less often than I did at Who's the Daddy?. Maybe that was because the farcical confrontations don’t take off, maybe because the mockery of our poor royal family is too obvious.”
Nicholas de Jongh in the Evening Standard - “Only people with an appetite for rank theatrical rubbish will want to gorge themselves on this relentlessly boring little farce…. A Right Royal Farce has all the shock value of a pair of pubertal schoolboys caught fiddling with each other in the bike shed…. Few shows of such embarrassing, authorial ineptitude can have hit the London stage since the Blitz. When it comes to embarrassment or bad taste, though, Young and Evans, who cocked several successful snooks at David Blunkett's sex life in last year's far better Who's the Daddy?, score a bull's-eye…. Young and Evans, whose biggest success as farce writers is their obliteration of the intelligence, command and humour that they display as Spectator theatre critics, never manage to create any farcical momentum or classic spiral of panic or even sharp dialogue.”
- by Caroline Ansdell