PRINCE Andrew‘s life does not lend itself naturally to musical comedy.
Nonetheless, Channel 4 and the Oxford-educated writer and comedian Kieran Hodgson have decided to defy common sense and give his sojourn on this earth the technicolour all-singing, all-dancing, tippy-tappy MGM treatment.
Quite, apart from the fact that the Duke of York is not someone I want beamed onto my living room at Christmas, I seriously doubt that “Prince Andrew: The Musical” is likely to make it to Broadway or even to Stratford (I don’t mean Stratford-Upon-Avon, but rather the one with the Westfield).
Whilst some musicals leave a bad taste in the mouth, this one causes full-on halitosis.
It opens with Hodgson’s Prince, complete with grey fright-wig and weird, feathery eyebrows that look as if they have been attacked by a cheese grater, cavorting triumphantly around Buckingham Palace, accompanied by high-kicking, elbow-flapping butlers and equerries.
The scene involves a re-enactment of the Duke‘s carnage of a Newsnight interview in November 2019.
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Emily Maitlis makes an appearance, courtesy of actress Emma Sid, in a more expensive-looking fright-wig, as she and Andrew warble through a duet entitled ”I Nailed It”.
As numbers go, it isn’t down in the cellar, but I can’t see it becoming a standard, either.
Throughout this bizarre composition, the songs tried hard for Noel Coward-style sophistication and hummability.
But with one-note tunes and lyrics like “the Empire is about to fall/ We need a Prince to save us all” (as the Argentines invade the Falklands), it occurred to me that there is a good reason why, with the exception of Andrew Lloyd Webber, this country no longer leads the world in musical theatre.
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The chorus provides brave support, the dancers have verve, and the sets of various royal palaces sparkle, but it isn’t enough.
A serenade about Profiteroles
By the time we get to Andrew serenading Sarah Ferguson with a song about Profiteroles, the remnants of my Christmas dinner began to rise in revolt.
What had we, the viewers. done to deserve such Yuletide punishment?
And why was King Charles, played by the actor and comedian Munya Chawawa, given a humongous goatee beard?
These and other important questions, such as why Harry Enfield agreed to essay the most unconvincing ever cameo of Tony Blair, in tangerine make up, or why drag queen Baga Chipzappeared as an apparition of Margaret Thatcher, were never satisfactorily answered.
It was all very self-satisfied – these Oxbridge-educated comedians can strut sitting down – and possessed the juvenile bile that liberal elites ooze from every pore.
'No mercy for 90 minutes'
I wouldn’t have minded if “Prince Andrew” had been funny, or even mildly diverting after the first ten minutes.
But there was no let up and no mercy after an hour and a half.
We were dragged back, kicking and screaming, to the yesterdays of the Duke’s childhood, youth, misbegotten career as a Trade Envoy, and introduction to Jeffrey Epstein (offstage), in a montage of dreary, self congratulatory republicanism.
King Charles, predictably, was portrayed as a hypocrite using his brother to mask his own misdemeanours.
We were given misspent royal yesterdays.
I would give Kieran Hodgson and Channel 4 thirty years to life.
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