Guided tours combined with immersive theatre can be a bit of a hit or miss affair but with Les Enfants Terribles and Historical Royal Palaces’ production of United Queendom this is a 24 carat, grab your tiara, wig and wimple superb hit.
This is the story of George II, Queen Caroline and Henrietta Howard the King’s mistress and close confidant to the Queen as her Lady of the Bed Chamber.
The costumes are terrific, magnificent production values and the venue, the drawing rooms and salon of Kensington Palace bring what can only be described as an opulent, lavish and an incredible way to put this show over.
With actors Miranda Heath playing Queen Caroline, Yasmin Keita as Henrietta and a wonderfully OTT Lavinia Co-op as George II the stage was set for their story of scandal, intrigue, political protocols and manoeuvring and general skullduggery. Special mention has to be made of Richard Holt as the Duke of Newcastle whose ability to fill in some of the gaps in this story was sensational and with the clever use of video playback and other special effects, it became very camp indeed.
This is also delectable theatre because all concerned are also informing the audience about 1734 and the court of George II. This is not a boring history lesson, the opposite in fact; one of the characters even performs a rap to advance the story – brilliant. And we hear about Sir Isaac Newton telling the court that the world was not flat but round, to gasps of heresy from the inner sanctum.
There is also a coquettish charm to the whole thing combined with a misanthropic attitude that some of the court’s residents had despite knowing that they needed to be seen with all the right people to keep grace and favour with both George and Caroline.
This is exemplary entertainment about two women and their love for their King. An intellectual look at a period in history with no stuffiness in sight. A huge ‘Bravo!’ to director Christa Harris and artistic director Oliver Lansley.