Writer/Director: Nick Lane
Reviewer: Rosie Revell
Opening in 1882 we join Thomas Crapper on the eve of the first “royal flush” after being given a warrant to provide flushing toilets for Queen Victoria at Sandringham. Crapper writes a letter recounting his life and career to a lost love. After the interval the action moves to 2012 where Joe, a toilet cleaner in an old people’s home in Crapper’s hometown of Thorne, Yorkshire, is preparing for another “royal flush” in the shape of The Queen’s royal jubilee visit. If he can keep his cool the visit could solve all his problems.
Royal Flush is a unique experience brought to us by Rich Seam Theatre in collaboration with Harrogate Theatre. Currently in its premiere run, it has toured extensively throughout Yorkshire, closing tonight in Halifax. It is an absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable show from start to finish.
Yes, it is essentially about toilets, but it is cleverly so much more than that and therein lays the wit and ultimately the enjoyment of the show. Really the show is two separate plays but the skilled writing allows the viewer to make the connections between them with ease; Thorne, Yorkshire, Frankenstein, and flushing toilets.
Matthew Booth takes both male parts; in fact he takes all the parts, flitting between them all with ease. He has a commanding presence throughout the two hour show. The gentle more serious humour in his portrayal of Crapper is touching and lovable as we join the gentle ramblings of a man on the eve of the biggest day in his career. The plot device of writing the letter helps him slip from character to character with ease. Joe is a harder character to like, selfish and self-absorbed, in Booth’s hands he broadens to a more comedic character as the ingenious plan descends into farce. Joe is left with a glimmer of satisfactory redemption. The two vastly different comedic styles work well together.
As a one- man show the words are vital and Lane’s script is excellent, holding the audience enraptured and provoking just the right amount of laughs. The set and sound is simple and serve to highlight the show in all the right places instead of detracting from it.
Part historical fact, clever characterisation and humour Royal Flush is an inventive, touching account of the history of toilets and our changing attitudes to them.