Thursday, November 30

Three Kings – Old Vic In Camera

The Old Vic celebrated 200 years of theatre in 2018 and even though its doors are closed to live performance, they have taken their expertise in producing high quality theatrical productions and transported this grandfather of London theatre into the digital age.

In a striped back production due to many of the staff being furloughed, the Old Vic have taken on their second live screening, following on from the success of ‘Lungs’.  Written by Stephen Beresford, who began his career as an actor and then found quick success as a writer penning such films as ‘Pride’ and ‘Tolkien’ and for the stage, ‘The Last Of The Haussmans’.  ‘Three Kings’ was written for Andrew Scott who performs this dialogue alone on the stage at the Old Vic, and if you have been fortunate enough to have seen Scott’s performance in ‘Sea Wall’, you will have no doubt at his skills in monologue.

With the beautiful backdrop of the Old Vic’s stage, the setting is simple, the play is filmed entirely live for each of the five performances. 

© Manuel Harlan

The main character is Patrick who at 8 years old, is meeting his father for the first time.  It is a meeting that he will remember forever, but not entirely for good reasons.   As you would imagine, he has expectations that this will be the beginning of a relationship with this father.  After years of living with his mother and sister (who is 4 year his senior and has at least some recollection of their father), he found the meeting difficult, with Patrick Senior being somewhat emotionally detached.  The only connection he picked up on was a game that his father used to play in bars called ‘Three Kings’.  Involving three coins, the game of spoof has helped his father out of some situations in the past and if Patrick Jr manages to solve the puzzle, he will get a prize.  To see him again!

The play moves on through different stages of Patrick Jr’s life and we see the impact his father’s detachment has on him.  One has to wonder why he ever came to see his son at all, but the meeting stays with Patrick Jr.

Scott performs the role at different stages of Patrick’s life.  From the age of 8, into his teens then adulthood and we see the profound affect this one meeting has upon him and how it shaped him into the man he became.  He shows a vulnerability in Patrick Jr who doesn’t know how to handle his father’s apparent rejection of him again, but it also makes him hard and he finds it difficult to become attached to anyone.  Beresford has written a play showing how easy it is to destroy the human spirit.  Director by Matthew Warchus, he has filmed this stage play almost as though it is intended for television with close ups of Scott at the more emotional moments which accentuate those raw emotions, instantly connecting the audience.

The Old Vic have presented us with another top-quality play and the fact that it has been written especially for them and Andrew Scott just adds to the enjoyment.  You will need a tissue box to hand as Andrew Scott’s emotional performance cannot help but draw a tear.

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Reviewer: Caroline Worswick

Reviewed: 3rd September 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★