Rock Musical Knights Of The Rose Hits All The Wrong Notes

Knights of the Rose, Arts Theatre ★★☆☆☆

By BelindaL Last edited 18 months ago

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Rock Musical Knights Of The Rose Hits All The Wrong Notes Knights of the Rose, Arts Theatre 2
Photo: Mark Dawson

“Arrr, that it be,” said the old crone in Blackadder, to which he retorted, “yes it is, not ‘that it be’, I’m not a tourist.” In Knights of the Rose, a putative swords-and-shields musical epic, there is a similar sense of the ridiculous in its plundering of anything that sounds and looks vaguely old.

The result is spectacularly, hyperbolically inauthentic. The set list of rock anthems you might fondly remember might get your toes tapping, but the script will only have them tapping impatiently.

Photo: Mark Dawson

The show takes itself far too seriously and ignores multiple opprtunities for satire. Instead Knights of the Rose plunges us into a fake past, full of knights wooing princesses with extremely long hair, and swashbuckling men wielding plastic swords or carousing in taverns.

Diego Pitarch’s set is faithful to the forgery, with fake lanterns beamed onto the walls signifying a crepuscular medieval era, and a single flame implausibly suggesting a battle camp fire. The dialogue is all scraps of English Literature as the script segues from Chaucer, Burns, Blake and poor old Bill Shakespeare ripped and stitched together in ways that could be described as trippy for the listener.

Photo: Mark Dawson

The cast belt out Bon Jovi, Bonnie Tyler, REM and other hits and are vocally impressive. But even if you’re not a massive rock fan you would want some more grit and oomph to the proceedings. The electric guitarists are swathed in smoke like a bad school disco. The audience hiss and boo a baddie, more out of boredom than engagement.

We did so want to enjoy Knights of the Rose and to take it with a pinch of salt. But you’d need road-gritting quantities of salt to maintain goodwill as it dialled down as the night went on, when it should have cranked up the volume.

Knights of the Rose, Arts Theatre, 6-7 Great Newport Street, WC2H 7JB. Tickets £17.85-£66.50. Until 26 August 2018.

Last Updated 06 July 2018