This is another piece written by Peter Barnes in the series of monologues going under the title of Barnes People. Again the “action” takes place in the form of an interview on an empty stage with the lead character, Leslie Bray, who has been a footman working at Buckingham Palace for thirty years and has in that time risen from humble beginnings as third door opener to the heady heights of first door opener! A lifetime of keeping secrets, putting up with poor pay for the social prestige and privilege of working in the Royal Household and knowing that the role involves upholding the dignity of the Crown at all times.
We are given numerous insights into what goes on behind the scenes, the characters which are introduced from both upstairs and downstairs, what is needed to make a success of his chosen career and what happens to the “bad apples” that somehow make it into the ranks of those employed within the Palace, particularly one lady who became a clerk to the Queen’s household on the basis of phoney references and turned out to be, shock, horror, the daughter of a mere grocer (remind you of any former Prime Minister you may know?). How Leslie came into the position is explained early on, in spite of his own family background including a musician father who played in working men’s clubs!
I actually sat through this piece twice because I was enjoying it so much the first time that I forgot that I was meant to be reviewing it, so had to go back and start again!
This was a true gem of a piece of writing. There were some very funny delicious one-liners and lots of subtle observational humour. You can see why this was originally banned from broadcast by the BBC. This is a world premiere for this one act play which takes you behind the scenes of the most famous royal palaces with someone who knows his place and knows where his duty lies. Adrian Scarborough is one of the best character actors in the country and was seen recently in the Gavin and Stacey comedy series. His impressive body of work has won him many awards over the years and this piece will only add to the reputation he has accumulated. A truly unforgettable piece of theatre magic.
Reviewer: David S. Clarke
Reviewed: 19th February 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★
Standard – £10
With programme – £12.50
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Age guidance: suitable for all ages
Running time: approx. 20 mins
English subtitles available