From the moment the curtain rose on The Apollo Players’ latest play, ‘The Apple Cart’, we knew we were dealing with important issues. Two palace officials, waiting for the king to make his appearance, discuss the serious matter of love letters received by the monarch. These two secretaries-cum-waiters, played by Robbie Gwinnett and Corey Gibbs, are a constant presence, silently filling glasses, standing to attention – and as every actor knows, it’s a lot harder to be on stage when you have no – or few – words. They did brilliantly.
As did the Government, most of whom also spend most of their time reacting to speeches rather than making them. Yet each one created their own persona more than competently: Carole Crow as Pliny was ladylike and conservative (with a small c!); Balbus, played by Nick Turvey, was only interested in proceedings when they served his ambition or impacted on his brother who had been expelled from the cabinet; Chris Hicks was a gentlemanly Crassus and David Stradling’s Nicobar was ineffective yet protesting. Colin Ford portrayed the bumbling yet arrogant Boanerges, the archetypal working class man made good. The strait-laced Lysistrata was played by Marylyn Ford, a good foil for the flirty and giggly Amanda (Fiona Gwinnett).
The first half set out the situation and demonstrated that whatever type of political society one has, it is flawed. Trying – and often failing – to keep order among her cabinet was Prime Minister Proteus, played by Ginnie Orrey, set against the main character King Magnus, in which role Ian Moth reigned supreme- even while his government was trying to prevent him from speaking his views, reducing him to a cipher. The king, of course, is wily enough to outwit them, as we see as the story develops
In the second half we met the Queen, played with suitable hauteur by Kathryn Ward, as she and her husband met the aggressively charming – but actually aggressive – American ambassador, played superbly by Joel Leverton. He suggested that his country merge with the UK – after all, he mused, in topical vein, the American president is known for having unusual ideas. Trump was even name-checked, underlining the fact that while this play dates from the 1920’s, its satire still bites today. The cast was completed by Susan Simpson as Princess Alice.
For a thought-provoking evening you could do far worse than visit the mythical UK of King Magnus, which you can visit from Tuesday to Saturday of next week (March 27- 31) at The Apollo Theatre. Shows start at 7.30pm and tickets are available from the box office or online via the Apollo website at http://www.apollo-theatre.org.uk/the-apple-cart/