Some stories are so strange you couldn’t make them up, and others, like the seventeenth century tale of the crown jewels heist, become even more absurd with time.
Simon Nye’s comedy revolves around the unlikely but true story of an attempt to steal the crown jewels in 1671 during the reign of King Charles II. A villain called Colonel Blood, disguised as a priest and wearing a false beard, is only one of the preposterous real-life characters we meet, and Nye stretches the truth for full comedic effect.
The show, which includes elements of stand-up comedy and musical theatre, opens with a song. Carrie Hope Fletcher, in fine voice as Lady of the Bedchamber, sings while holding a full bedpan which splashes on the audience. It is fair to say that the show starts as it means to go on and there is plenty of toilet humour to follow.
In many ways the bawdy humour is what you might expect from the creator of Men Behaving Badly. But as it’s been a while since the show aired, Nye’s script feels surprisingly lewd for a theatre crowd. And it isn’t until Al Murray is given free stand-up reign to address the crowd as Charles II that the audience is truly
Given the week’s news, joking about a powerful man hunting out his next sexual conquest from the audience, feels not so much near the knuckle as on the bone. But Murray’s quick wit plays with old and new, what’s in the script and who’s in front of him. He emerges from the night a true king of comedy.
Although there are no royal titles for Mel Giedroyc she deserves to be crowned queen of the show. Her comic timing is flawless, and her physical comedy lifts every scene to a genuine laugh out loud level.
The play arrives fresh from a West End run and it is clear the all-star cast, which also includes Neil Morrissey and Joe Thomas (The Inbetweeners), are in tune. In this bizarre historical romp camaraderie fizzes and their fun is infectious.