The Crown Jewels ★★ Garrick Theatre | Jul 7 - Sep 16, 2023

In 1671, eleven years into the reign of Charles II, Colonel Thomas Blood led a daring attempt to steal the crown jewels from the Tower of London. This comic version of that event tries to mix history and humour in the tradition of Blackadder and the Horrible Histories series. Unfortunately, it all falls rather flat with the jokes lacking originality and many of the running gags not being very funny. The sexual innuendos are sophomoric and the characters never develop beyond predictable traits and catchphrases. Al Murray is an impressive Charles II, and he exudes the charm and geniality one associates with the merry monarch, but his monologues aren't really integrated into the story, and his interactions with the audience seem more like stand-up routines in costume. In fact, the whole piece seems stitched together with all the parts not forming a coherent whole. Murray does his one-man show, Carrie Hope Fletcher sings a couple of songs, Mel Giedroyc appears as a French noblewoman who does some awkward audience interaction, and then there's the jewel heist plot with a few historical facts and lots of buffoonery. Michael Taylor's set and costume design is definitely a highlight, and the show's broad humour and pantomime quality might appeal to those looking for light summer entertainment. For us, The Crown Jewels didn't live up to being that royal romp of a caper comedy we were hoping for.

Rated: ★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Hugo Glendinning

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