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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Performance Consultant Trainee

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Consultant trainee opportunit...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - (Full marketing mix) - Knutsford

£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Knu...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world