Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
Can a 14 year old use instagram to save the monarchy?
The year is 2028. It has been less than a week since the Queen's death, marking the end of her 76-year reign. There is a move in Parliament not to swear allegiance to the new monarch, King Charles. Prince George, 14, is anxious to see this move thwarted and the monarchy preserved, but the royal family is frustratingly silent. Something must be done - and if no one else will act, Prince George will. You see, he really wants to be King one day. And he has reason to believe that he will be.
Patrick Livesey in The Boy, George at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
The Boy, George is a solo work written and performed by Patrick Livesey in which he plays the title role of the privileged, ambitious, queer, and complex teenage prince. He starts out as an endearing character, reminiscent of Simba from The Lion King. It wouldn't be a surprise if he did grow up singing Simba's song, I just can't wait to be king. As the play progresses, though, you realize that his desire to ascend the throne isn't just a naive and youthful love for attention and admiration. For George, the institution of the monarchy is everything. His need to fulfill his destiny (as he sees it) comes from a place of ideology, of a deep-seated belief that he, as a royal, ordained by God himself, is actually different from the commoners around him. Setting his great-grandmother Elizabeth, his grandmother Diana and his mother Catherine before himself as role models, he strategizes about how to make the monarchy great again.
Livesey delivers a polished performance as the boy, George. He is convincing in his role and does well to hold the attention and interest of the audience throughout his character's extensive soliloquizing. He gains the audience's empathy early on, a fact which causes disconcertion a bit later when he separates himself from them, revealing his somewhat disturbing worldviews and declaring his inherent superiority. The audience finds themselves no longer feeling quite as sorry for his predicament, and even somewhat glad that the hand of fate knows how to even things out.
If the first half of the play is on a steady forwards-and-upwards trajectory, the second half seems to slow down and sag just a little. The campness gets a little tiring, and some scenes are stretched beyond their ideal length. There are also a couple of bizarre, supernatural moments that don't quite seem to belong in the play and serve as a plot device to move things along towards the ending. The ending, however, is definitely a fitting and satisfactory resolution to the play and makes up for the minor imperfections leading up to it.
Overall, this play is an imaginative and well put together work that provides a lot of food for thought, both politically and personally. It tends towards heaviness and complexity but has enough chuckles in it to keep it consistently engaging. The complex character of Prince George, and Livesey's skilful performance of it is what grabbed my attention the most. Livesey has excellent stage presence and holds the play together with a solid performance.
The Boy, George is playing at Errol's & Co, 69-71 Errol St, North Melbourne from 20-25 September 2018 as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.