REVIEW: KNIGHTS OF THE ROSE (Arts Theatre) ★
A medieval rock musical with elements of Shakespeare thrown in always sounded like it was going to be a difficult blend to pull off. But if Heath Ledger could do it with the 2001 film A Knights Tale, why not make a go of a musical?
Well, the answer is because it doesn’t work, well at least with the new musical Knights of the Rose it doesn’t.
Right from the first moment I knew we were in trouble when a gaggle of knights clad in a mixture of armour and skinny jeans did a slow-motion fight dance to Bon Jovi, but sadly, unlike the classic power balled, they didn’t go “down in a blaze of glory” they limped by for a couple of hours with the audience cringing along with them.
There is a flimsy love story at the centre, with the knights returning from battle to woo the women folk, only to find there is more than one suitor for each fair maiden, which results in an angsty skirmish between a few of the brethren.
Yep, the story is also painfully out-dated with the men all-heroic and the women simpering and it’s worth pointing out that there’s not one person of colour in the cast.
But it’s when the fist punching 80s songs are forced in between the dreary dialogue that things really go from bad to worse and the audience are left awkwardly laughing at what they are witnessing on stage. The most agonising moment is when poor Oliver Savile (whose vocals are, by the way, excellent) tries to court a maiden by speaking the first lines to the cheesy Enrique Iglesius hit Hero.
It’s such a waste of talent, as the hugely accomplished cast provides some simply stunning vocal performances and really do try their best with the dire script. But they would be better off just standing and singing rather than attempting to make any theatrical gains with this appalling production.
Reviewed by Nicky Sweetland
Photo: Mark Dawson