Desmond O’Connor’s timely revival of his hit comedy Royal Vauxhall is, to put it simply, stunning! It tells the story of an alleged visit to the famous Royal Vauxhall Tavern by Princess Diana, disguised as man with TV star and DJ Kenny Everett and Queen front man Freddie Mercury. This wonderful study in to human character delves into the idiosyncrasies of these three well known, and in Diana’s case hugely famous, people. The very strong opening number entitled ‘What would you give to be me’ really sets the tone of the piece. It’s 90 minutes of pure cabaret magic.
The show is also an immersive experience with Diana – “D” – played by a very versatile Carrie Marx, Joe Morrow as a slightly manic depressive Kenny Everett and author of the play O’Connor playing Freddie coming into the audience as if they were part of the crowd on the original night watching an Adrella or Regina type drag queen performing on stage. The structure of this musical is firmly based in clever song writing, lyrics that rhyme, extension of wit and comedic moments that are just gorgeous with Carrie as Diana saying things like “I’ve had enough Charlie to last me a lifetime” as Freddie picks Kenny up off the toilet floor and wipes traces of white powder off his nose. O’Connor is also wanting to put across a serious message here about fame and the perils of it and this is achieved with a wonderful respect for these three vulnerable people in the spotlight and in the glare of Fleet Street. Royal Vauxhall is tender, heartfelt and moving. Having the play performed in the actual venue made for an experience that I will not forget in a long time. Directed by Zoe Kennedy with a charm and a true understanding of the power of ‘camp’. If by any chance the spirits of the three found themselves floating by the venue, I’m sure chuckles of delight would be heard. It’s a must see!