Perfectly timed to coincide with the upcoming royal wedding, this musical comedy is packed full of laughs but seems to run out of steam towards the end. 

Tori Allen-Martin and Christian James in H.R.Haitch (Credit of Nick Rutter)
(c) Nick Rutter. 

For anyone looking for a royal knees up ahead of the royal wedding could do worse than to pay a visit to the Union Theatre for this amusing satire about marrying into the royal family from the outside.

Chelsea is an ordinary young lady with a flair for cooking and helping out around her dad’s pub. She is also in a relationship with Bertie who has conveniently forgotten to tell her his full title: Prince Albert. What follows is an amusing story as Chelsea tries to fit into her boyfriend’s world.

Featuring a book by Maz Evans, H.R. Haitch is wonderfully perky and witty in terms of its sense of humour – with plenty of inside jokes for audiences to appreciate in 2018 including references to being as “innocent as Miley Cyrus” or booking tickets to see major acts such as David Bowie in 2016. But the plot is very thin and once Chelsea discovers the true identity of Bertie it seems as though the story has nowhere to go – except by throwing in an ambitious plan by Princess Victoria to become the next in line to the throne – which again doesn’t feel as though it is developed enough.

This is not helped by the lyrics (also written by Maz Evans), that verge on silliness and do tend to become slightly tedious in places. It is a shame because Luke Bateman’s music is suitably playful and is enjoyable to listen to, reflecting the story well.

However, despite this there is still plenty to enjoy about Daniel Winder’s production, which never takes itself seriously and is pretty energetic throughout that it is hard for the audience not to get swept along with it all. There is real sharpness in the way Maz Evans’s script is delivered and makes full use of the humour perfectly. The production certainly has great comic timing.

The cast all deliver lively and enjoyable performances, led by Tori Allen-Martin’s feisty but immensely likeable Chelsea who might enjoy a selfie or two but is intensely loyal and Andrea Miller is absolutely hilarious as both Vera and Queen Mary, holding nothing back in her performance. Elsewhere, Christian James is adorable as the slightly dumb Prince Albert – particularly performing a mega-mix of different love songs from musicals and popular music extremely well but it would have been nice to see his character develop more.

It would be interesting to see how H.R. Haitch would do as a play rather than as a musical because it comes across as though the songs perhaps slow the story down just too much, meaning that the plot is just spread out a little too thinly and in need of development to fully extend over the two hours.

But for those looking for an amusingly entertaining night out, H.R. Haitch has plenty to offer in terms of humour and hilarious characterisations.

By Emma Clarendon 

H.R. Haitch continues to play at the Union Theatre until the 2nd June. For more information visit: http://www.uniontheatre.biz/hrh.html

Rating: ❤❤❤

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