theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
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
Food & Wine
~ my everyday life through the lens of my camera ~
Helping Improve Lives
Vintage Inspired Paper Crafts & Digital Design
A journey through life in Southwest France
Historical Fiction with a French Flavour
It isn't being John Malkovich, but it is being me
Writer. Poet. ELearning Instructor & Narrative Designer: Researching Fandom Through Literature, Folklore, Game Studies, Pop Culture & Visual Media.
Daily Reflections from My Home and Garden
The Power of Story
Unlocking the Door to Your Past
Not just a blog, a philosophy
by Jack Monroe, bestselling author of 'A Girl Called Jack'
Realist, writer, reader, reviewer and rocker.
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.
Artists, Writers and Visionaries Blog on the Unique and Ordinary
Collected works and other excuses from a textile obssessive
has random thoughts
Airborne, Seadwellers and Landlubbers Lives
Working with dead people
Writing - Loving What I Do and Doing What I Love!
the darker side to sedge808
Photographs, music and writing about daily life. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Creative Intuitive from New Zealand
Family Saga Fiction by Adrienne Morris
Burgers, Books, Music, Movies, Offbeat Adventures & Pop Culture!
theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...
Candid cultural comments from the Isles of Wonder
Horror, Science Fiction, Comic Books and More
Traveling the World Through Others
A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.
Art, Literature, Poetry, Politics and a little History
Travel and Wildlife Adventures
Writer & Author
it's all about the story, possums...
Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...
Adventures in Watercolor Painting and Sketching, Watercolour Magazine, with Charlie O'Shields
Poetry, Other Words, and Cats
The Bridge between two countries
A lifestyle blog with a little bit of everything.
A personal exploration of autism from a brother’s perspective, including family relationships, philosophy, neuroscience, mental health history and ethics
Entertainment, travel and lifestyle blog
Founder of the Three Things Method of Storytelling
Another terrific post Sarah. thank you
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!
And reaching a whole new audience who might have missed the first time round.