H.R.Haitch follows the story of East London gal Chelsea Taylor as she discovers the true identity of her fiancé, Albie, or rather, Prince Albert. Set in 2011, this musical comedy’s book and lyrics are by Maz Evans with composition from Luke Bateman and direction from Daniel Winder.
The piece does have some charming and memorable moments, and strong performances. Emily Jane Kerr’s performance as Princess Victoria was wonderful, and her song ‘Spare to the Heir’ was a resounding success, showcasing the beautiful timbre and diction of her voice. Christian James (Prince Albert) is similarly one to watch, sure to make inroads into the West End. His voice echoes that of a Marius, and he has charm and charisma to match. His performance is funny and endearing, a particular highlight being the amalgamation of love anthems he performs in act one. Tori Allen-Martin (Chelsea) gave an honest, charming and vulnerable portrayal, with excellent comic timing.
That being said, other characters fail to impress – in particular, Andrea Millers’ characters Vera and Queen Mary made a few too many crude jokes, not all of which landed. In portraying the queen solely as a foul mouthed battle axe, H R Haitch certainly misses a trick.
However, the issues with this piece do not lie at all with the actors (who should all be commended), but rather with some of the content and manner, which may need a little redirection. Lily Howkins’ choreography focuses heavily on head movements and kick lines, not all of which seem appropriate or are flawlessly executed. Furthermore, it seems a little bizarre to stage this production so closely to the Royal Wedding yet remind the audience incessantly that it is in fact set in 2011.
Ultimately, the writing hasn’t decided whether it is taking itself seriously or not. H.R.Haitch knocks on the fourth wall but fails to break it completely, causing the performance to fall flat in places and the whole thing to feel more than a little pantomime-esque.
HRHaitch is playing at The Union until 2nd June.