Boys of the Empire
High-camp boy’s own comedy deserves six of the best
This article is from 2008.
This self-consciously silly, satirical stab at the boy’s own adventure wants to be Just William with a nod towards The History Boys by way of Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns. Set between an English boarding school in the late 1930s, and the newly re-named Iraq – then ruled by British colonial puppet King Faisal II – the piece plays as a rum mystery concerning diplomats’ sons and foreign spies, framed as a serialised tale of derring-do in the titular lad’s periodical, complete with commentary by its pipe-smoking editor.
What promises to be a smartly postmodern take on the milieu, however, turns out to be a rather dim-witted and over-egged affair. The historically intriguing parallels between Iraq then and Iraq now, which are touched on in the proceedings, together with the potentially subversive treatment of homoerotic public school culture, are all but lost in a barrage of very lame jokes about ‘posh poofs’. And, while one or two of the gags are so very bad they generate bewildered laughter, the consistently hysterical high camp tone quickly becomes utterly tiresome. The best that can be said of this show is the young cast is game and energetic, but Edinburgh-born writer Glenn Chandler (creator of Taggart) should be given six of the best for this grade D nonsense.
C Chambers Street, 0845 260 1234, until 25 Aug, 8pm, £9.50–£11.50 (£8.50–£10.50).