With a smirk and a smile and a slap on the thigh Rich Watkins as Prince Henry burst on to the stage at the King’s Head with an eagerness to please that was just fabulous. Great guffaws, chuckles and giggles galore was instantly felt by the audience who were prepared to have a good belly laugh and watch a master stand-up comedy technician at work.
Watkins knows how to work his audience and with a clear sense of brevity by director/producer Denholm Spurr, the cheers of joy and the immediate clap-a-longs were instinctive and automatic – and this audience participation added to the playfulness of the whole 65 minute show.
Watkins is the only gay Prince in his kingdom and unable to find his true love or to basically get a shag, he ventures into the bright lights of the city Soho, looking for Mr Right and finding most of the times Mr Wrong.
Rich lets his imagination run riot re-working the Disney theme songs complete with rude and risqué lyrics and with a flutter of his eye lashes mimics the sentimentality that a Disney tried and trusted pastoral harp rendering melody evokes. Also Watkins wants to explain his take on gay stereotypes and for a brief moment not so much to drop the comedy aspect of his play – he via two puppets as props – comments on PrEP, HIV and the use of condoms.
Happily Ever Poofter is clever material which contains a very personal message which is both alluring and utterly charming. I’m sure Rich will find a pot of gold at the end of his rainbow. Dazzling and very naughty in equal measure!
Photos by Rah Petherbridge