Tea with the Old Queen (3 stars)

Highly entertaining high-camp treat featuring Backstairs Billy & Co.

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This article is from 2012.

Tea with the Old Queen

Writer-director Graham Woolnough’s play provides us with a delightfully indiscreet behind-the-scenes look at the lives of Britain’s royal family, as told through the fictional diaries of the Queen Mother’s bitchy old queen of a butler, ‘Backstairs’ Billy (nicely played by Ian Stark). The Queen Mum herself comes of rather well, being presented as boozy but dignified, while the rest of the royals are the subjects of merciless ridicule. They’re easy targets, of course, particularly xenophobic Phillip and silly-billy Charles. But Billy’s inexhaustible bitching also takes in the out-of-the-limelight ligging minor royals, various other fellow silver servicemen and, most amusingly, the Blairs, who are portrayed, quite convincingly, as a pair of ladder-climbing oiks.

If there’s one minor quibble, it’s the reciting of a series of entries from Billy’s ‘diary’ makes the show feel a little bit like a book reading. It doesn’t really need this prop. It drags down what is otherwise a highly entertaining high-camp show.

C aquila, 0845 260 1234, until 27 Aug, 5.25pm, £9.50--10.50 (£7.50--£8.50).

This article is from 2012.

Tea with the Old Queen

  • 3 stars

Funny, witty, poignant play revealing the eccentricities of our monarchy as recorded in the fictitious 'secret' diaries of William Tallon - Steward and Page of the Backstairs to the Queen Mother. Backstairs Billy has seen and done it all… Billy died a few years after the Queen Mother, taking with him his secrets - or so…

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