First Night: Royal Family's difficulties take a turn for the theatrical: The Queen and I, - The Vaudeville Theatre, London

THE Royal Family's troubles reached the West End stage last night as a production, publicly funded through the Arts Council, showed the family having to live on a council estate in a republican Britain.

The play, written by Sue Townsend, author of the Adrian Mole books, and directed by Max Stafford-Clark, former head of the Royal Court theatre, makes theatrical history by depicting several members of a living royal family. The Queen, the Queen Mother, Prince Philip and Princess Margaret are included, as are the Prince and Princess of Wales.

But it will be a test of how attitudes to the Royal Family have changed to see whether West End audiences tolerate what is often very crude humour at the royals' expense, and a plot which sees the Royal Family banished to a Leicester council estate.

Princess Margaret becomes a whisky-swilling fence for stolen goods, the Princess of Wales seduces the local social services officer, Prince Charles seduces a single mother, the Queen has to be taught how to boil an egg, Prince William joins a gang of vandals, and the Queen Mother visits the betting shop. It is only six years since the National Theatre made history by staging a respectful and witty Alan Bennett play which was the first to portray a living monarch. This first West End portrayal of so many of the Royal Family as the butts of heavy-handed humour shows how much further the theatre has felt able to go in just a few years, gambling on a parallel decline in the public's respect for the Royal Family.

The original production, from Stafford-Clark's company Out Of Joint, which has been touring before coming to the West End, has received pounds 80,000 of public money, its original producer Sonia Friedman confirmed last night.

She added that the odd equerry had been in to see previews, but no complaints had been received.

'The new climate towards the Royal Family will undoubtedly now be reflected in the theatre,' she said. 'But we were careful to be affectionate to the Queen and Queen Mother, who triumph in adversity. Otherwise I think there would be criticism.'

Leading article, page 17 (Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established managed services IT...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003