Emily Slack for The London Collective
“Welcome to Hampton Court palace. The year is 1553. Please turn off your mobile phones.”
Mock Tudor is a hilarious, heartfelt and refreshing play with subject matter that when you think about it has been begging for this type of comedy treatment for a long time.
The plot follows the cast of historical interpreters at Hampton Court on one of their most trying days at work. The previous Kathryn of Aragon has been transferred to the Tower of London (to play a different character, nothing sinister!) and Sophie (Lily Bevan) from the gift shop has taken her place without time for rehearsal.
On top of that ambitious manager Kent (Fraser Millward) announces that what they do is “the past of the past” and that the top bosses are looking to “the future of the past.” To be in with a chance to keep their jobs they need to make sure that all the shows that day are the best that they can be… under the circumstances.
What follows is farcical but scarily plausible as they improvise and renegotiate their way through the set scenes trying to be historically accurate whilst attempting to keep tempers and characters in check.
Anyone who has taken part in an improvisation workshop will know that acceptance is the key, so when Sophie quotes a well known song instead of giving a line the rest of them have to follow in an awkwardly Tudor way.
This is an exceptionally strong cast who manage to increase the comedy quota scene upon scene without crossing the line into pantomime. There are also touching moments that contrast well with the comedy and for those history buffs out there are also lots of genuine Tudor facts.
Lily Bevan’s writing is sharp, witty and yet believable creating a funny but also recognisable situation for anyone under stress in a workplace. The last thing you need is your boss being patronisingly motivational which is something that Kent (“stop, collaborate, listen”) does so well.
Reviewer: Amy Yorston