Review: Knights Of The Rose at the Arts Theatre
Shorter, at the Edinburgh Fringe and – most importantly – with a sense of humour, this hot mess of a musical could have been hot stuff! Alas…
Seriously, seriously, wherefore art thou taking everything so seriously? It’s an odd one, Knights of the Rose – an undoubtedly toe-tapping jukebox of power ballads and rock anthems squeezed (never seamlessly, often hilariously) into a Game Of Thrones-lite, medieval soap opera.
All of which could be an epic triumph if only someone had the awareness to play it all knowingly for laughs. Instead, there’s not a wry eye or arched eyebrow to be seen, as a game troupe of performers plough with earnest intensity through a ripe and flimsy plot.
There could be something for everyone here – an excellent songbook, matched with perfectly good vocal performances, cheerily cheesy soft-rock stylings and a lightweight storyline perfect for these hot summer evenings. But when you’re breaking into a rendition of Enrique Iglesias’ ‘Hero’ at the drop of a hat, or silencing the protestations of a loved one by launching without any warning into the chorus of No Doubt’s ‘Don’t Speak’, you’ve got to play up to the hilarity of it all. When the direction doesn’t allow for that – and it never does – the audience are left to make up their own jokes, while the actors struggle on towards yet another deathly serious power-rock pose.
What should be a joyful romp turns instead into a slightly uncomfortable viewing experience – you may never know whether to disbelievingly laugh or awkwardly snigger, but you’ll probably settle for a mixture of both. All of that said, you won’t be bored, and if your toes aren’t tapping throughout you must be dead inside.