The part of The Queen Mother was played by Penelope Wilton who brought a very radiant, spirited energy to the stage and seemed to have a great likeness to the real deal. She gave a warm, captivating portrayal throughout the piece which, combined with her witty sense of humour, meant she stole many hearts in the audience. Wilton beautifully displays The Queen Mother’s love of human connection, evoking sympathy for the moving moments of loneliness.
All the cast were highly amusing but I specifically loved watching the friendship grow between the two leads. It was reminiscent of viewing a favourite sitcom with characters that you have loved for ages.
A real highlight for the me was the amusing addition of the most handsome cast members, two corgis, running across the stage.
Overall I feel that the whole cast, under the direction of Grandage, excellently captured the full range of emotions in the writing. The strong message to show the world that the sweet old lady we remember The Queen Mother to be only just touched the surface of the humorous, ‘national symbol of resilience’ she was formally recognised as.
Due to the impressive standard all round, I would give this patriotic play 5 stars as it was a truly splendid show. It is very apparent that the writer Dos Santos holds The Queen Mother very dear and wants to keep her electric spirit alive.
This show was reviewed on the 8th November 2023. Backstairs Billy runs at The Duke of York's Theatre until the 27th January 2024. Tickets available here: Backstairs Billy (thedukeofyorks.com)
Review written by Jasmine Alice
Photo credit: Johan Persson