Car Park King

Jessica McDonagh
Every Egg A Bird Theatre
The Kings Arms
to

Every Egg A Bird Theatre returns to Manchester with a tour of Car Park King, their madcap comedy about the unfortunate life of Richard III. At the 2017 Greater Manchester Fringe it was staged at 53two, but this time the venue is the theatre upstairs in The Kings Arms, which really looks the part with its Tudor-esque vaulted ceiling.

The cast once again sees James Beglin take the starring role as the hapless king, inducing huge audience laughs with his wide-eyed looks and wailing sobs. Kris W Laudrum and writer-actor Jessica McDonagh bring to life a plethora of comical characters complete with crazy wigs and regional accents. There’s the expected key players in the War of the Roses—Edward IV, Henry Tudor, Elizabeth Woodville—but also some more surreal additions, such as a talking mushroom, a takeaway delivery man and Richard’s horse (named Horsey).

Recorded narration helps to frame the farcical action and contextualise it as Richard’s fevered remembrance of the past—a version of the story where he is a put-upon victim, not an evil hunchback, fails in his fight against a witch’s curse and ends up buried under a car park.

With historical events crammed in at an unrealistically fast pace—something which is referenced several times—and so much humour relying on physicality, this play must be exhausting to perform and credit should go to the cast for not letting their energy levels slip. However, at one hour and twenty minutes, Car Park King does still feel overlong and might benefit from being edited down to 60 minutes.

Daft, frantic and fun, Car Park King is a history play with a difference: squeezing jokes in at every opportunity while still telling a story, and proving that you don't need to rely on anachronisms to get a laugh.

Reviewer: Georgina Wells