Pros: Absurd and engaging premise delivered with great comedy.
Cons: The play’s climax could have been given more air time.
David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham stuck in a Swiss hotel room: if there was any premise ripe for comedy, it would be this. The Three Lions offers an hilarious insight into England’s bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, following the high flying personalities as they fumble their way through meetings, botched hotel bookings and political negotiations. Full of jibes and classic misunderstandings, the comedy was intensified with the knowledge that the events of the play were loosely based on reality.
While the character’s situation is a shambles the script and its delivery was incredibly tight, and there was no faulting any of the performances. In terms of characterisation each character was largely on point, but the hapless and giggling PA Penny felt clichéd although through no fault of actress Antonia Kinlay’s, who delivered her wonderfully despite the slightly tired approach the script offered her character. Séan Browne has David Beckham down to a tee, so much so it was almost spooky at times. Dugald Bruce-Lockhart exuded Cameron’s egotistical, camera-ready physicality perfectly, complete with all the hand gestures a regular speech-giver employs. Prince William was given a goofy approach by Tom Davey that was at once playful and sarcastic, and his numerous practical jokes offered a glimpse into the silly streak in the royal family we only rarely get to see.
The set barely changed throughout the duration of the performance, with just a few prop changes and wall adjustments made to signify each character’s respective hotel room. It was the issue of a wrongly booked room that triggered the torrent of problems the play thrust at the characters, but as the other issues mounted, when the initial rooming problem was revisited it felt unimportant and secondary to the other issues at stake.
I had wondered how the climax of the play, the bid for FIFA itself, would be managed on a one-set stage, but it was handled in a clip of very convincing, amusing video footage that not only eliminated a clunky set change, but also brought the reality of the story back in mind. With a running length of two hours the play felt compact but never rushed, however the final scene exposing the play’s twist could have been given more gravity.
All in all The Three Lions is an extremely fun, hilariously absurd depiction of three of our best known celebrities, packed with comedy and a very talented cast.
Director: Philip Wilson
Producers: Rosie Bowen, Jenny Topper
Set Design: Colin Falconer
Box Office: 0844 264 2140
Booking Until: 2 May 2015
Booking Link: https://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/theatre/the-three-lions/