Knights of the Rose
Created by Jennifer Marsden
Directed & Choreographed by Racky Plews
The Arts Theatre Until 26th August
Review by Rosalind Freeborn
Knights of the Rose is full of splendid singing and great choreography – hats off to the production team who have filled the Arts Theatre in Covent Garden with darkly brooding, glisteningly tough soldiers and gorgeously beautiful women in rich, swishy gowns with fabulously long hair.
Take four theatrical genres: pantomime, musical, opera and Shakespeare; add a dose of Arthurian legend, a spot of ‘Merrie England’, a chunk of Love Island and mash it up with the big hit tunes of yesteryear and you get a very amusing, roistering show which is fun to watch but a bit lacking in focus.
Photo credit: Mark Dawson
The music is terrific. What’s a little unsettling is hearing the cue in the curious script galloping towards you. ‘What we need is a hero’, trills one of the girls as they chat about the boys, ‘yes, ‘I’m holding out for a hero too’….. and guess what, the song gets going. But those girls give it welly and for a fleeting moment I even believe them.
In terms of story it’s quite slight. We are in a slightly foggy period of history where everyone speaks in cod Shakespearean couplets, produces whole quotes from plays – ‘Alas, Horatio (one of the characters) I knew him well.’ And there are bits of Keats too; ‘Oh what can ail thee, knight at arms, alone and palely loitering.’ The men are returning from five years of battling the wicked army of Avalon, the girls are at home holding out for their heroes. When the men appear they have a bit of bother coupling up with the girls. There are marriage proposals, unrequited love scenes, rowdy pub scenes, dance scenes and then a really great battle scene involving puppet horses and terrifying whizzing arrows. This is followed by a death scene which should have elicited tears of sorrow at the demise of a key character but was actually greeted by tears of mirth and helpless giggles. It was a bit: A funny thing happened on the way to Avalon.
Photo credit: Mark Dawson
Then, as we go through a funeral scene and marriage scene, plus much jollity and dancing, the whole show becomes a bit Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Marriage of Figaro.
Having said all that, I enjoyed it very much but possibly not in the way I was intended to. The singing is really good, the musical direction is excellent – though we can’t really see the band through the smoke – and the talented players present their roles with great conviction, some ace voices and great musical prowess.
I think this show will be perfect for anyone looking for an entertaining night out as long as they prepare to go with the trot, canter and gallop of a slightly bonkers romance mingled with some great songs.
LOCATION: Arts Theatre – 6-7 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JB DATES: 29th June – 26th August, 2018
Monday – 7.30pm Tuesday – Off Wednesday – 7.30pm Thursday – 3pm/7.30pm Friday – 7.30pm Saturday – 3pm/ 7.30pm Sunday – 4pm
Wednesday, Thursday Matinee, Thursday Evening, Sunday and Monday £55 // £45// £33.50 // £22.50 // £15
Friday, Saturday Matinee, Saturday Evening
£65 // £49.50 // £38.50 // £25 // £20
Box Office: 020 7836 8463 // https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk