THE COMING OF THE KING

“Trousers? Of course I shall wear trousers. I couldn’t be in the same room as Lady Stiffkey without trousers. Not until we are married. And perhaps not even then. She may have strong views on the matter.

COMEDY, FULL-LENGTH PLAY, LGBTQ+ THEMES | for 8 or 9 actors

Want to perform or produce THE COMING OF THE KING?

first performed by Paul Beckham, Simon Brencher, Jackie Byrne, Corin Campbell Hill, Helen Corbett, Nicky Iyegbe, Ben Rogers, Corinne Sloan and Georg Xander

directed by Jonathan Dawes
designed by Yoko Wako
lighting design by Bertilla Spoletto
assistant director Melinda Liu
stage manager Ann Baxter
deputy stage manager Kirsty Chestnutt
assistant stage managers Amanda Joy and Patricia Oliveira
technical manager Lorraine Wales

produced by City Lit Rep Company

IT’S ALL TRUE

PROGRAMME NOTE FROM ORIGINAL PRODUCTION

It’s all true. Edward the Seventh, Queen Victoria’s vigorously adulterous son and heir, was due to be crowned in June 1902 when appendicitis forced the rites to be postponed at the last minute. Information about his illness had been suppressed, so the cancellation stunned London, its streets lavishly decorated, where world heads of state and dignitaries gathered for the spectacular. Most disappointed were those who had invested in now useless coronation facilities, with lengthy lawsuits resulting. French film pioneer George Méliès went ahead with his film Le sacre d’Edouard VII nevertheless, reconstructing the events in a studio, so that for a while viewers could watch a film of an event which had not actually taken place.

A scandal-prone royal family, an imperial city full of anxiety about terrorist plots, an atmosphere of sexual and political hypocrisy; all this attracted me to write a play set backstage at Edward’s coronation. But the idea wasn’t originally mine – I first became interested when I read in Joe Orton’s diary that his next play would have such a setting. His murder intervened, however, and as far as I know he never got any further than giving it a title: Prick Up Your Ears.

That title’s been used since, but I hope The Coming of the King has something of the spirit of Orton, whose idea I’ve stolen, and Oscar Wilde, whose own brilliant reign over London had just recently ended in humiliation, exile and death. And perhaps a bit of Mr Puff, self-professed playwright in Sheridan’s The Critic who, in the epigraph Orton chose, dismissed quibbles about historical accuracy: ‘where history gives you a good heroic outline for a play, you may fill up with a little love at your own discretion’.