The Prince of Wales theatre in London has been home to the funniest show in the West End for the last 8 years in the shape of The Book of Mormon, so it's only fitting that another comedy moves in temporarily while we wait for the other show to return. Even more appropriately, this show is about the Prince of Wales himself.
Based on the hit Channel 4 series The Windsors, this show sees our beloved Royal Family sent up with near the knuckle humour. Several cast members from the TV show reprise their roles on the stage but have been joined by some new names due to the relatively last minute nature of this production.
The Windsors Endgame is very much a pantomime. Filled with caricature characters including a brilliant panto villain and audience participation, it even boasts a smattering of musical numbers through it, penned by Felix Hagan. If you enjoy the annual panto at the Palladium, you will feel very much at home at the Prince of Wales. The plot is as paper thin as it gets - Camilla wants to make Charles "absolute monarch" and sets the country back hundreds of years in the process - which obviously leads the way for a lot of fun.
Harry Enfield tops the bill as Prince Charles, who starts the show finally becoming King. While he is the biggest name in the cast and the publicity surrounds him, he is surprisingly on stage a lot less than expected. His appearances are few and far between, allowing other members of the ensemble cast to shine in their own relative stories. When he is on stage, he more than proves why he is such a well-loved comedy legend with a great visual gag involving a certain body part and a brilliant and slightly unexpected Lord of the Rings impression.
The younger generation of the Royal family make up the bulk of the show with Ciaran Owens, Kara Tointon, Tom Durant-Pritchard and Crystal Condie making up "the fab four" of Wills, Kate, Harry and Meghan. Between them they enjoy some of the most memorable scenes in the show as well as some surprising twists in their relationships. Jenny Rainsford and Eliza Butterworth are absolute scene-stealers as Beatrice and Eugenie, forming a fantastic double act that is up there with Ant and Dec. Their big musical number 'Innocent' is a standout moment.
Keeping up to date with the most current Royal stories, Prince Andrew, played by Tim Wallers, is embroiled in "Nonce-gate". While some might find it in bad taste, you can't help but laugh at the frankly hilarious lines aimed at him and the scandal around him. Admirably, the writers even updated the script to include the most recent events involving him that came out yesterday. Matthew Cottle channels his best Nigel Havers from the Palladium pantomimes for the hopeless Prince Edward who inserts himself (not in the same way his brother does) into every scene possible as a variety of side characters. The main cast is completed by Sophie-Louise Dann who gives an amazing portrayal as a shameless Fergie, ensuring laughs every time she opens her mouth.
The standout performance in this has to go to the wonderful Tracy-Ann Oberman as Camilla. A mix of panto villain and Disney villain, she is effortlessly brilliant as she pulls the strings behind the scenes, has the most cutting lines to her hapless stepfamily and delivers an absolute showstopper in her big solo musical number about Diana. She doesn't so much chew the scenery as she does own it playing a character you love to hate.
Considering the short time they had to produce this show, the staging is pretty impressive. Going from the palace to LA to the bedroom and everything inbetween, the sets manage the remarkable trick of looking fit for the West End while still resembling a regional panto. The jewel in the crown of The Windsors Endgame is the writing. George Jeffrie (who sadly passed away after working on the first draft) and Bert Tyler-Moore have created an utterly hilarious show that pokes fun at our most famous institution with some clever one-lines and remaining brilliantly topical. The shows curtain call features a twist on the usual bows that borders on absolute genius and ensures you are laughing right until the very last second.
Don't get me wrong - this show is as stupid as it gets, but is that not exactly what we all need after the past 18 months? Providing some much needed escapism, The Windsors Endgame is undoubtedly the funniest show in the West End right now. If you want nothing more than to lose yourself in some absurdity and laugh yourself silly for a couple of hours, this is the show for you. If you wake up singing the National Anthem each morning and found The Crown offensive, you might want to steer clear. Unashamedly hilarious, this adult panto is the perfect tonic for the last 18 months.
The Windsors Endgame is at the Prince of Wales theatre until October 9th. Tickets from https://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/whats-on/the-windsors-endgame
Photos by Marc Brenner