This memorably titled one-man show, which premiered last year in Edinburgh, tells the story of the wonderful Prince Henry trapped in a world faraway – where being openly gay is not okay. Our hero looks to his fairy godfather to transport him to a world where he can be himself – Soho – and find his one true love.
Actor and activist Rich Watkins – an old hand at the capital’s LGBTQ haunts from the Royal Vauxhall Tavern to Above The Stag – takes the audience on an informative and transformative adventure to a land far a-gay. Through explosive and empathetic physicality, his energy fills the room with happiness, sadness, laughter and reflection.
Oftentimes I find one-man shows jarring and struggle to engage with each individual character, but Watkins is able to make fun of his awkward onstage costume changes with excellent comic timing: and, because he fully commits to each and every character he portrays with such vigour, we are duly transported.
The writing isn’t angry, it’s forgiving, understanding and wholly thankful of the world we live in. The script is structured so that we are comforted by the familiar tropes of a pantomime, and then sharply brought back to earth and reminded of the steps we have taken towards inclusivity and understanding.
Henry’s adventures are performed to a dazzling soundtrack of parodied Disney classics, with the show opening to a hilarious rendition of “One Day My Prince Will Cum”. Ooh-er.
Award-winning director Denholm Spurr and movement director Simone Murphy have ensured that every outrageous Disney dance number is punctuated by a moment of careful reflection, keeping the action light-hearted and enjoyable without removing the fundamental message of the show.
Coinciding with the start of LGBT History Month 2020, it’s one of the most vibrant pieces I’ve seen in a long time, and proves that you don’t need a thirty-person strong cast – or, for that matter thousands of pounds – to make truly hilarious and moving theatre.
Check out our review of LGBTQ play The Morning After at Above The Stag here
Image ©Rah Petherbridge Photography