07 November 2023
Duke of York’s Theatre
5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Backstairs Billy, with Penelope Wilton and Luke Evans, is currently playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre, and the reviews are extremely mixed. However, I’m here to tell you to disregard all the other reviews and base your decision of whether to see the play or not on one simple question:
Do you enjoy lowbrow, farcical humour?
It is 1979, the nation is in turmoil, but inside Clarence House, the Queen Mother’s social gatherings are still well stocked with champagne and highly curated visitors. William ‘Billy’ Talon has been in service to the Queen Mother since he was 15 years old, he knows what she needs and is her most loyal servant. Recently promoted to the Page of the Backstairs, he now faces scrutiny over his spending for the household.
Having spent most of his life in Clarence House, and in service to the Queen Mother, Billy is boisterous and flamboyant while taking his work extremely seriously. But one night, when he is too secure in his position in the household, he brings a young man back to the Queen Mother’s garden room to impress him. Things go sideways when they are discovered, and a series of hilarious events unfolds.
With real corgis on stage, Evans swinging from extremely flamboyant to subserviently demure depending on the situation, and Wilton portraying a very charming but firm royal, it’s a fantastic show if you like this kind of humour. As I said above, don’t expect intellectual wonders from this play, but if you’re looking for deeply amusing situational comedy, full belly laugh moments, and fluffy doggies pacing across the stage, this play is for you!
I loved the show and haven’t laughed this much in the theatre in a very long time.