The Royals. A staple in every British family, we all sit down on Easter Sunday and Christmas day to watch Old Liz do her party piece, we all laugh at the Philips lack of political correctness and we definitely all made the most of our day off to ‘watch the Royal wedding’, but what are these people like in the private of their own homes? Well through Ellen Chivers’ Royal Hunter we see just that. The piece starts with a hilarious sketch depicting one side of a conversation between The Queen & Philip, what makes it so unique is the everyday nature, talking of the corgis, their latest online shop and of course taking the bins out, it was an inspired sketch.
One man (or woman rather) theatre can be a real mountain, you have nothing to fall back on, just you and the text, so doing a comedy is even more daunting, you have to get the audience on side. Ellen had some very clever ways of doing just this, even though she was faced with a rather dauntingly quiet and hard to please audience she really did well at getting as much from them as possible, a hard feat, personally I loved my time as Karen throughout the piece.
The piece was a real rollercoaster and Ellen’s energy really brought us along, she was both charming and lovable, to a point where we all wished it was a true story, the struggles of her life beautifully portrayed and the honest example of what would happen if we actually did meet the big family ourselves. There initial transition from sketch to Ellen was a little clunky and felt a bit jarring, however overall her transitions between characters where well thought out and she very clearly made us sure when she was present Ellen and story teller Ellen which really carried us through the piece.
There were some great highlights to the script like making Harry an east end geezer and the stampede of corgis was particularly funny, but my joke of the night had to be the awkward chair Zumba that we can all relate to when sitting down to early at a table…quite frankly it’s sometimes my only exercise.
The acting and script were both human and an ease to watch, the only slight let down for me was the direction. Although some moments where lovely, I feel Steve McCourt really could have used Ellen’s energy more and utilised more of the space, which would have really helped her keep the audience captured which as mentioned is a tough ask in a one hander. I felt that we really Ellen should have been knackered after the piece as her excitable character suggested, but instead I felt it was all very easy.
Overall, the piece was a funny and enjoyable look into Ellen’s mind, it really was a treat to watch and something that I think hard for anyone to not find funny. Chivers should be very proud of having the guts to both write and perform a one hander, but also do it so well, I only wish that the direction had been a little more inspired and more music would have really elevated it to a new level and had the audience ROFLing!