KNIGHTS OF THE ROSE | London, Arts Theatre

An epic rock musical with mediaeval knights belting out top Cs in leather trousers; it’s got to be tongue in cheek, right? Why else would the chainmail be glittery? Why else would the guitarist be rocking out in silhouette on a plinth? Wrong. Do not come to this show looking for laughs, it’s deadly serious from beginning to end.

Writer and creator Jennifer Marsden is a barrister, with no theatre training or background, who has forged this new jukebox musical out of a sincere love for classic literature and classic rock. Unfortunately, the story is basically non-existent: act one is a parade of knights singing to damsels; act two is a parade of sobbing odes to death.

The singing, on the other hand, is phenomenal, as is the four-piece band. Ruben Van Keer (Bat Out Of Hell) stands out, especially in Meat Loaf’s virtuosic “Is Nothing Sacred”, as does Rebekah Lowings’ astonishing belt in “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” (another Jim Steinman number). There is plenty to enjoy in the music alone.

But the wobbly set, tacky projections, circuitous dialogue, and complete lack of stakes in the story or any of the characters, are not enjoyable. This may explain why, despite the completely humourless tone, the audience were laughing at it, and restlessly talking among themselves throughout. Some didn’t come back in the interval. Others may prefer not to come at all.

At the Arts Theatre until 26 August 2018.

The Prickle - About transp