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‘Knights of the Rose’ review

  • Theatre, Musicals
  • 2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Batshit mental vanity project musical mixing up Arthurian knights and Bon Jovi

What the actual fuck is this? Good question. Barrister and budding musical theatre impresario Jennifer Marsden has done a cut-and-paste job, pilfering chunks of classic texts then sticking them together to create a patchwork, swords-and-shields epic. Then she’s set it to stone-cold rock anthems. It’s a greatest hits compilation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Marlowe. With added Bon Jovi.

Marsden wants to bring the age of Arthurian chivalry back to theatre. She’s a latter-day Don Quixote, riding forth from the Inner Temple to tilt at tatty, has-been West End theatres with her scrapbooked, sing-a-long story. Each to their own, I guess.

The plot, such as it is, is basically a medieval ‘Love Island’. Love Castle, if you will. A band of knights, brothers-in-arms, return from war to woo and wed their respective sweethearts. Some of them are after the same maiden. Some of them will chase anything that moves. Some of them plan to stab each other in the back.

The bad bits. Racky Plews’s production has an entirely white cast, it doesn’t even come close to passing the Bechdel test, and it is, let’s be honest, completely and utterly ridiculous. Punked-up, armour-clad Jon Snow-lookalikes belting out Bonnie Tyler on a cardboard castle set. Do me a favour.

The good bits: the tunes. Banger after banger. Bonnie Tyler, Gwen Stefani, REM, The Calling. The sizeable ensemble crank them out gamely. Particularly relish the moment when Oliver Savile’s dashing Sir Hugo slides straight into Enrique Iglesias’s ‘Hero’ without warning. Only a chorus of Three Lions could improve proceedings.

It’s all just enormously silly. Like the flimsy Camelot it all takes place on, ‘Knights Of The Rose’ is basically one big folly. Foolhardy and instantly forgettable, but kinda fun all the same.

Written by
Fergus Morgan


£15-£65. Runs 2hr 50min
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