Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive Review • THE DORCHESTER • Jermyn Street Theatre • 2007

Portrait for Noël Coward's last Christmas Card

Portrait for Noël Coward’s last Christmas Card by Allan Warren [Wikimedia]

J B Miller is not the first person to write about a world in which the Germans invade Britain. Doubtless he will not be the last. Noël Coward, for instance, gave us Peace in Our Time. Nor is Miller the first playwright to put the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and their irritating, incontinent dog, Mr Loo, at the centre of the action – Snoo Wilson did it with HRH. And it didn’t work then either.

Holed up in the Royal Suite at the Dorchester, the Duke (Tim Faulkner) and Duchess (Toni Kanal) are visited by Von Ribbentrop (Matthew Wynn) who is trying to broker a deal to put the Duke back on the throne – in name only – but Wallis insists on £20 million if they are to accept. Also in the mix is Noël Coward (Matthew Phillips) as a spy and ‘Bertie’, King George VI (Alec Walters), disguised as a bellhop with a fake moustache.

All of this suggests farce but the first ten minutes of the play are written and played so straight that it feels as if we might be in for a serious, thought–provoking piece using a few substantiated and unsubstantiated facts about Coward’s wartime activities, and the Duke and Duchess’s Nazi sympathies. What actually follows is a tepid comedy with some hackneyed in-jokes about theatricals and the Royal Family, not to mention weak performances from Wynn and Walters as the Nazi and the King. And, since comedy or farce must be rooted in reality, especially if one is going to play around with history, glaring errors – the Duke did not go to Eton but was privately tutored – destroy the illusion, as does the set, which suggests tatty wartime digs in a seedy part of town rather than a world-famous British hotel. The sound effects, meanwhile, betray a system in need of an overhaul.

Tim Faulkner, although far too tall for the part, manages a remarkable likeness to ‘David’, both physically and emotionally, as well as making the most of the comedy. Matthew Phillips is excellent at ‘doing a Coward’, providing the perfect example of how to play a real person, whose vocal tics and mannerisms are so well-known, without a hint of caricature. Someone should offer him the part of Noël elsewhere.

The casting of the beautiful, petite Toni Kanal as Wallis Simpson seems misguided. Wallis, although she could ‘never be too rich or too thin’, was rather masculine in appearance and had a core of steel at her centre. Not helped by the script nor, it would seem, her director, Kanal is too soft to suggest the woman who changed the course of British history, a woman who cared more about her own comfort than the suffering of others.

The Dorchester is simply not funny enough and I can’t help feeling that J B Miller ought to have put his historical knowledge to work on a serious play.

Sarah Vernon © 2007

Originally published on R&V on 18-11-07


3 comments on “Archive Review • THE DORCHESTER • Jermyn Street Theatre • 2007

  1. Another terrific post Sarah. thank you

  2. First Night Design

    Thank you, Sally. I’m always quite surprised when I look at my writing from the past – rather better than I’d thought, she said immodestly!

  3. And reaching a whole new audience who might have missed the first time round.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Food & Wine

Coffee fuels my photography!

~ my everyday life through the lens of my camera ~

Polly's Paper Studio

Vintage Inspired Paper Crafts & Digital Design

Life on La Lune

A journey through life in Southwest France

Vanessa Couchman

Historical Fiction with a French Flavour

Disability & Determination

It isn't being John Malkovich, but it is being me

Nicholas Andriani Rankin

Writer. Poet. ELearning Instructor & Narrative Designer: Researching Fandom Through Literature, Folklore, Game Studies, Pop Culture & Visual Media.

Joe Ruggiero at Home

Daily Reflections from My Home and Garden

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

Genealogy Jude

Unlocking the Door to Your Past


by Jack Monroe, bestselling author of 'A Girl Called Jack'

Stevie Turner

Realist, writer, reader, reviewer and rocker.

The Stuff They Won't Include in Any Tourist Guide: The Real England

The Real England is a concise, direct, and not-so-gentle window into the depths of the leftovers of the world’s once greatest empire. It is told from the perspective of one lone (or not so lone) long term visitor. It informs one of the dregs of the country and helps to explain quaint British oddities such as the crack addicted chav.

S.O.U.L. S-P-A-C-E

Artists, Writers and Visionaries Blog on the Unique and Ordinary

The Lady Sews

Collected works and other excuses from a textile obssessive


Defending Scientism


has random thoughts

Criminal Historian

Working with dead people


Writing - Loving What I Do and Doing What I Love!


the darker side to sedge808

Off Center & Not Even

Photographs, music and writing about daily life. Contact:

Reina Cottier Art

Creative Intuitive from New Zealand

Tenafly Road

Family Saga Fiction by Adrienne Morris


Burgers, Books, Music, Movies, Offbeat Adventures & Pop Culture!

Etan Smallman

Freelance journalist

Assemblage Art

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...

Candia Comes Clean

Candid cultural comments from the Isles of Wonder


Horror, Science Fiction, Comic Books and More

The Wandering Empath

Traveling the World Through Others

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.


Art, Literature, Poetry, Politics and a little History

Jet Eliot

Travel and Wildlife Adventures

Judith Barrow

Writer & Author

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Tropical Affair

Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...


Adventures in Watercolor Painting and Sketching, Watercolour Magazine, with Charlie O'Shields

Life in Russia

The Bridge between two countries

London Life With Liz

A lifestyle blog with a little bit of everything.

Brotherly Love

A personal exploration of autism from a brother’s perspective, including family relationships, philosophy, neuroscience, mental health history and ethics

Alex Raphael

Entertainment, travel and lifestyle blog

Teagan's Books

Founder of the Three Things Method of Storytelling

%d bloggers like this: