Director Philip Wilson brings William Gaminara’s comedy The Three Lions – recounting England’s failed attempt to persuade FIFA to host the 2018 World cup in England – to Victoria’s St James Theatre.
First debuted at 2013’s Edinburgh Fringe, the comedy centres around a series of Zurich hotel rooms, where the three key “players” – David Beckham, the Prime Minister and Prince William – meet to discuss strategy between presentations to the delegates.
The characterisations are spot on – Dugald Bruce-Lockhart plays a rather overbearing and frightfully earnest David Cameron while Tom Davey plays William as both heir to the throne and frivolous practical joker. However the best lines (and the best performance) is reserved for Sean Browne who plays the suave but thick-as-two-short planks David Beckham. Often stymied by the most simple of ideas floated by the other two, you can almost see the gears slowly turning in his head – it’s a hilarious role which Browne squeezes until its comedy pips squeak and his look, accent and costume had me (and other members of the audience that I spoke to) forgetting that the guy on stage was an actor and not actually married to Posh Spice!
The Three Lions is an audacious play – I know of no other where a playwright would dare to put Lady Bracknell’s famous line from The Importance Of Being Earnest into the mouth of a lad from Leytonstone, and it doesn’t pull its punches either. Thinly veiled accusations of corruption against FIFA officials, phone hacking and tabloid trickery are all present and correct, as is David Cameron’s avowed admiration of a certain MP for Wolverhampton South West.
Despite the serious and topical controversies that the play centres around this is a genuinely funny piece of theatre – the entire audience was in stitches throughout thanks to some great wordplay and a lot of slapstick, much of which centred around Nick Clegg and trousers…
There’s some brilliant sound and staging to add to the fun too, with football anthems getting the audience into the mood and arrangement of exotic flowers diminishing in size as the play switches between rooms – superstar David Beckham gets the biggest of course!
The Three Lions runs at the St James Theatre until 2 May and is highly recommended – it’s quite possibly the best comedy you’ll see on the London stage this year.