By Royal Command, we are in the palatial, ghostly, and distressed surroundings of the historic Wilton’s Music Hall, to spend just short of 80 minutes in the company of HM The Queen.
The Crown Dual was one of the hits of the Edinburgh Fringe, taking careful aim at the Netflix series The Crown as well as the notion of monarchy. It is silly, satirical, and just plain funny.
In the persons of Rosie Holt and Brendan Murphy we meet not just Liz and Phil, but also a stuttering George VI (“you should marry a naval officer or asshole … a soldier”), an ancient cigar-puffing Churchill, a horny fur-clad Princess Margaret (with Top Gun-like Peter Townsend), a large-eared young Charles (“I just can’t wait to be king” / “you’ll be waiting a bloody long time!”), and a bovver-boy Armstrong Jones.
There’s a running gag about the Duke of Edinburgh’s frustrations at having no role, a small dig at his driving, and an encounter with a huge penguin. There’s audience participation (which I was assured by one lady was genuine and not done by planted performers). There’s several digs at Netflix, inventive use of a phone, and a lot of stage smog.
The humour is of the slightly joshing kind rather than downright cruel, and Holt’s Queen retains her what-the-heck singlemindedness right to the moment she gains the coveted baubles and Crown of state.
It could perhaps have been closer to traditional knockabout farce, but the quick changes, goofy script (at one point a Merlin-like tutor appears for a montage of Queendom), and likeable performers keep this going.
The Crown Dual has its final performances at Wilton’s Music Hall today, 14 September.