We take a look at what is being said about the new comedy now playing in the West End for a strictly limited time until the 16th September.

Photograph: Hugo Glendinning

The Guardian: “There is some amusement to hearing Murray’s clipped, aristocratic vowels, while Fletcher is good as the stroppy Elizabeth and Thomas brings his Inbetweeners’ haplessness as Blood’s wimpy son, but this cannot sustain us for two hours.”

London Theatre.co.uk: “Michael Taylor supplies vibrant costumes (Charles’s gold shoes are delightful), and a breathless chase scene played out on a big map with puppets offers some zany theatricality. More of that inventiveness is needed to turn this fitfully funny historical curio into a crowning achievement.”

The Independent: “Comedy about a real-life attempt to steal the crown jewels from Charles II is somehow tame, obvious and baffling at the same time.”

Evening Standard: “Murray and Giedroyc’s performances are funny because they are funny people. But those performances are not in service to any wider purpose, because there isn’t one here. Though Nye is a fine writer and Foley a shrewd comic director this half-formed show seems to have been slapped together for the amusement of themselves and their onstage chums, rather than to entertain an audience. I’m a Restoration man but this brought out my inner Cromwell.”

The Telegraph: “Simon Nye’s West End debut tells the true story of a madcap bid to snaffle Charles II’s crown, orb and sceptre.”

The Spectator: “There’s barely enough material here for a sketch show let alone a full-length play and the script is padded out with meandering scenes and underdeveloped characters.”

Lost in Theatreland: “With so many big comedy names within the cast, this show contains a surprising lack of laughs and some confusing choices. There’s a moment where The Footman leads a member of the audience off to the side, and then a member of front of house staff leads her straight back to her seat – which seems unnecessary and anticlimactic.”

Theatre and Tonic.co.uk: “Overall, The Crown Jewels isn’t terrible but it isn’t great either. I can see why some people may find it funny, but it just didn’t do much for me. A promising cast, an interesting premise, but not a memorable show.”

The Arts Desk: “Comedy is hard to get right and it’s also wildly subjective in its reception, so I always try to lean into a show, find the humour and gloss over the jokes that fall flat. But such generosity is hard to extend to a production that only succeeds when the story is left behind and the stage turns into a platform for proven West End performers to strut their stuff. Nye and Foley both have impressive track records with awards aplenty, but this is Nye’s first time writing for the stage – and it shows. The online booking page suggests 12 as the minimum age to enjoy the The Crown Jewels: it might also be the maximum IQ.”

WhatsOnStage: “It’s colourful to look at; the costumes are good, as is the revolving set that conveys the different locations (designed by Michael Taylor). But what a waste this show is. The ideal vehicle to tell this story would be a rollicking TV miniseries with lots of flashbacks to Charles’ and Blood’s eventful early lives and with space for nuance to explore the historical details. The final number proclaiming that Britons are best and all other nations are inferior is surely meant to be ironic but, like much on offer here, it’s too bland to land a punch.”

The Stage: “Simon Nye’s messy, limp comedy about a bodged heist stars Al Murray, Mel Giedroyc, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Aidan McArdle and Neil Morrissey.”

City Am: “They might offer the audience plates of swan, but that’s about the richest part of this comedy that feels too light on laughs and vibe to ever really get going.”

The FT: “Adonis Siddique, as his much-maligned footman, is also drolly funny. Giedroyc, likewise, makes a visiting French aristocrat a juicy comic turn by dint of a haughty air and eccentric laugh. But these feel like gems in want of a better setting.”

iNews: “The stabs at humour are vulgar. Scenes are padded out to twice their required length. There is absolutely no sense of jeopardy – and even more worryingly, we simply don’t care. The ageing, panto-inspired set designed by Michael Taylor is vanilla. The only thing we look forward to after the interval is the end. Because of the celebrity cast there is a high chance that this play will sell tickets, but this is British history in chaos. What a tragedy, and what a disaster.”

To book tickets click here.


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