Do You Still Throw Spears at Each Other?

Thu 2nd – Sat 11th August 2012


Hannah Buckley

at 00:26 on 3rd Aug 2012



Prince Philip is well known for the wacky phrases that have been attributed to him over the years. This play looks at the man behind that; both in character and in biography. Rather than going down the route of having a jest at royalty, the play is well written (thanks to Steve Haythorne) in a historical, entertaining way. I did get the impression from the show’s advertising that it was a comedy show, but in my opinion it was more an informative, entertaining biography of the Duke of Edinburgh.

George Telfer plays HRH brilliantly. He has the walk and the posture down to a tee, with the comical side of him showing his usual role of saying hello and shaking all of the audience’s hands. Telfer did well to use the small space that he was in. The lizard lounge is not the greatest space for any show. It is rather easy for the actor to move to part of the stage and have half the audience unable to see. However, Telfer was obviously well aware of this as he did well to make sure the audience could see and hear him throughout the show. Commendations for the great flow and structure of the play also have to go to the director, David Gilbrook.

Gilbrook also did the sound design, and the music fitted to each part of Prince Philip’s life kept it fresh and interesting. Nevertheless there was the last minute glitch which left Telfer in charge of the sound effects. This was, in a way, very funny as it gave him a chance to give off a more cantankerous side of the Duke, but it obviously distracted him and messed with the flow of the play. Hopefully this will only be a one-time problem.

But his should not discourage you from going. The show is more factual than funny, but is a great way to spend a free 45 minutes learning about one of the quirkiest members of the royal family.


Davina Moss

at 01:07 on 3rd Aug 2012



Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and “most misunderstood man in Britain” is the subject of this eccentric one-man show. Henry Telfer portrays the Royal Consort and through the hour attempts to exonerate this much-maligned figure from his pilloried state.

It is somewhat successful. Titters erupted at times from the four-or-five-person audience as Telfer gave it his all, and his impression of the Duke, although faded at times, was at other moments hilariously spot on. But the material let Telfer down, the simple retelling of the Duke's life story is both tedious and surprisingly lacking in comedy given the ridiculous nature of Prince Philip as a figure. Appealing to the uncomfortable British relationship with the monarchy, writer Steve Haythorne seems to be exploring our difficulties reconciling them with our democratic ideals, and yet the small hints of this are often quashed with another pointless anecdote. And yet by downplaying his more shameful moments Telfer seems to dehumanise the Duke as a figure and the final effect was flat and strangely lacked engagement. Staged in the Lizard Lounge at Espionage, we were practically toe-to-toe with Mr Telfer, but the show’s attempt to focus on the Duke’s positive attributes ended up with a surprisingly un-intimate environment – the performance ends on a strangely hectoring note. Despite the self-referential humour, the show seems ultimately unsuccessful either celebrating or satirizing the Duke of Edinburgh.

But despite somewhat dodgy material, an enjoyable hour was had by all. Telfer’s comic timing is razor-sharp and transcended the rather unfortunate technical difficulties, and his personal, interactive style has a charm. With his poker-straight back and idiosyncratic clearing of the throat, there were moments where one really felt like we were with the Duke himself. As an introduction to the Free Fringe it’s not unpleasant and raises the odd smile, but falling flat so often in such a short show isn’t quite forgivable, and without an effective direction for the text, Telfer flounders alone.


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