The Court Of King Charles II - The Second
Bridget Christie: The Court Of King Charles II The Second
Written by Steve Bennett in Chortle on August 27th, 2008
Bridget Christie just doesn’t know when to give up… and has made that into a glorious virtue.
Most comics, for example, would be satisfied with just one show about a 300-years dead monarch; not her. But Christie also shows the same pig-headed determination in her 17th century characters, from Samuel Pepys to The Great Plague, having them sustain ridiculous acts way beyond the initial laughs.
The audience react to the sheer nerve of it, first with amusement, then bemusement, then incredulity and back to amusement again… and Christie milks this wonderfully. She’s in perfect tune with the audience, reading their laughter then playfully goading them for more. A straightforward exchange of funny thing, followed by chuckle, doesn’t always happen here; instead she gets laughs in some very odd places.
A Pythonesque mimed horse aside, she starts almost conventionally, with a lovely bit of stand-up about herself, the venue and her obsession with Charles II. Derek Acorah gets a deserved pasting, too, but not in a lazy way as Christie becomes possessed by the spirit of her hero and the character work begins. Even then, the forth wall is paper-thin, and Christie keeps gleefully smashing any suspension of disbelief.
Top Cathedral-maker Sir Christopher Wren is first, speaking entirely in madrigal, before witchfinder general Matthew Hopkins seeks out a sorceress using his state-of-the-art equipment – a kazoo. As he denounces the evil-doer, he argues with the voices in his head criticising what he’s doing.
Pepys parodies blogging, Charlie comes back for a go at West End Musicals while The Great Plague is a blood-curdling montage of sinister mumblings, demonic wailing and teeth-gnashing.
Not everything here works, but when it does, the invention, stupidity and self-conscious awkwardness combine to make something brilliantly, uniquely funny. It’s certainly odd, but not just odd for odd’s sake – what truly alternative fringe comedy should be.