‘Like a bootleg World of Warcraft game’: KNIGHTS OF THE ROSE – Arts Theatre

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Arts Theatre, London – until 26 August 2018

All the advance publicity for Knights of the Rose gave me a sense of foreboding. I thought the Arts Theatre had hit rock bottom with Ruthless but it seems there is further to go.

This hideous mash-up of trite medieval knights-and-wenches tosh, like a bootleg World of Warcraft game, comes with scraps of quotations from Byron, Shakespeare and Chaucer whose collective grave-spinning at being welded to music by Bonnie Tyler, Bon Jovi and Enrique Iglesias could generate enough electricity to crash the National Grid. Basically, it’s the Vanquis credit card advert set to a random soft rock shuffle.

In cleverer hands (creator Jennifer Marsden at least has her career as a barrister to fall back on), it could have been a Pythonesque spoof of all such Middle Ages mummery, instead of which it ploughs a heavy-booted course through two hours of dry-ice enhanced dumb show.

If you stripped it of its amateurishly written script, and maybe the Camden Market school-of-Metallica costumes to just stage a rock concert, the cast would surely be equal to the task as there are some excellent voices including Katie Birtill and Rebekah Lowings proving that women really do rock Rock. Director Racky Plews’ strengths are in her inventive choreography which does make the best of quite a bad job.

If you can’t get into Bat Out of Hell, maybe this is an alternative. But without the Bat.

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Johnny Fox
‘Johnny Fox’ studied Theatre at Lancaster University and Journalism at City before realising there was no money in either profession and concentrating instead on interior design for investment banks in Singapore, New York and Moscow. Back home, he now writes mostly about theatre, mostly in London, for arts and events websites. He blogs independently at www.johnnyfox.london.
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Johnny Fox on FacebookJohnny Fox on Twitter
Johnny Fox
‘Johnny Fox’ studied Theatre at Lancaster University and Journalism at City before realising there was no money in either profession and concentrating instead on interior design for investment banks in Singapore, New York and Moscow. Back home, he now writes mostly about theatre, mostly in London, for arts and events websites. He blogs independently at www.johnnyfox.london.