If the real-life exploits of The Royal Family sometimes feel like a world away from normal life, then it makes sense that eventually we’d find their story in soap opera format. George Jeffrie and Bert Tyler Moore’s The Windsors ran on Channel Four for three seasons, using real life events to create a highly fictionalised account of the monarchy. With the success of the TV show under their belts, the concept transfers to the West End stage, with The Windsors: Endgame opening, appropriately enough, at The Prince of Wales Theatre.
Because in this version of reality it is the heir to the throne who takes centre stage. Harry Enfield reprises his role as Charles, navigating the wayward family members through the many trials and tribulations they seem to inevitably face.
For Endgame, our beloved Queen has abdicated seeing Charles crowned King. Camilla finds a loophole in the Brexit Treaty that allows Charles to seize absolute power and turn the UK in to a feudal state. It’s left to Wills and Kate to patch up their differences with Harry and Meghan to overthrow their father and restore democracy.
You don’t necessarily have to have seen the televised version to appreciate The Windsors: Endgame, which stands on its own plot wise. There are plenty of nods to the series that fans will appreciate, but there are changes too; most notably that Harry (Tom Durant-Pritchard) is no longer obsessed with Pippa Middleton’s bum, because of course Meghan (Crystal Condie) is now on the scene.
While many of the original cast have returned for the stage show, some new faces have joined the family too. Ciarán Owens makes for a fantastic Wills, and although, as Camilla, Tracy-Ann Oberman can’t quite match Haydn Gwynne’s level of moral turpitude, there’s still enough of pantomime villainy to entertain the audience.
Matthew Cottle pops up at various points playing Edward, who is in turn supposed to be returning to his passion for acting and filling in for several bit parts. While Harry Enfield is clearly the star of the show, there are strong performances from Tom Durant-Pritchard and Crystal Condie, and as Eugenie, Eliza Butterworth needs only to speak a handful of words to have the audience in hysterics.
Forced to close by the pandemic, Upstart Crow, another TV sitcom, had transferred to the stage last year, and while it worked to a degree, it could be argued that under the direction of Michael Fentiman, The Windsors: Endgame actually works better as a stage show.
It’s not exactly high-brow comedy, but neither does it pretend to be, and it has all the theatrical ingredients usually found in an epic at the National. The Windsors even manages to throw a few songs in to the mix, very few are sung in tune, but the comedy lyrics are enough to merit their inclusion.
This regal family manages to have a pop at everyone from Prince Andrew to Jamie Oliver, and try as you might feign indignation, it is viciously funny. The Windsors: Endgame, might not be the West End’s crowning glory, but as an irreverent, very naughty, and laugh out loud comedy, it works.