Bridget Christie: The Court Of King Charles II
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
The 17th Century. Deranged royals. Incompetent terrorists. Mentalist fundamentalists. Pointless WAGs. A time very different to our own.
Bridget Christie gives Charles II, Guy Fawkes, Oliver Cromwell, and Nell Gwynne their long-overdue Edinburgh festival debut.
This bonkers show properly encapsulates the spirit of the fringe: an idea so seemingly flimsy and unworkable, spun way out into unlikely directions, but done with such dedication and charm, it somehow works.
Based primarily on their similar hairstyles, Bridget Christie has developed an unhealthy obsession with King Charles II, so has chosen to perform her second solo show in his character, with help from other celebrities of the day, Guy Fawkes, Oliver Cromwell and, surreally, The Great Fire Of London.
Like other historical-based stand-up shows – including her husband Stewart Lee’s hilarious Johnson and Boswell offering at the Traverse – it’s the Restoration Monarch’s take on modern life that provides the laughs.
Or, more precisely, it’s Christie’s playful, frisky delivery of those observations that makes the show such a joy. She undermines the conventions of character comedy immediately – she’s obviously not really royal, and addresses the audience as herself, complaining that donning the garb of a 17th Century ruler isn’t always appreciated in 21st Century East London.
It’s typical of the clever balancing acts she pulls off in the show – between character and herself, between weighty proclamations and deliberately amateurish delivery, between haughty regal attitude and daft stunts.
Christie knows how to work the room, easily joshing the audience into participating in her stupid, juvenile games. She’s a relaxed, fluid performer taking any unexpected event in her stride, and by not taking herself at all seriously, a mischievous spirit fills the room.
The kitsch show runs out of steam in the last ten minutes or so, as Christie serves up some straightforward stand-up about her bleak honeymoon in the Shetlands and a drab dub-reggae number performed by all her characters. A power failure didn’t help, but it wasn’t the big finish such a low-budget extravaganza deserved.
Still, we had fun, and that’s the aim. Charles was the Merrie Monarch, after all, and in Christie, his spirit lives on.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett