In this surreal stream-of-consciousness monologue, Queen Victoria—played self-referentially by Bob Kingdom—reflects on her life and times through a series of imagined conversations with Albert, God and Kingdom himself. She also imagines what life might be like as a Cockney commoner – indulging in a bit of music-hall inspired class tourism as she plays out how the other half—or rather the other 99%—live.
These layered frames of reference bring out some interesting ideas about how history remembers people, asking what might happen if the dead were able to answer back to their biographers and mimics. The character-switching, slippery meta-theatre, and use of recordings to stage interactions with some of the important figures from Victoria’s life keep the show fresh and thought-provoking, but are also overwrought and confusing at times, particularly when Kingdom’s accent slips a little.
Kingdom—who has previously played the Duke of Windsor and the poet Dylan Thomas in similar solo shows—is for the most part a charmingly engaging performer, and a smattering of interactive moments elicit a warm response from his audience. The tone of the piece is rather too oddly solemn for any of his jokes to land much more than a polite chuckle though – this character profile is hazily pitched somewhere between an irreverent skewering of the monarch and a serious psychological portrait of a woman burdened with power, managing neither entirely successfully. We are—gently and occasionally—amused.