Review: Three Lions, by William Gaminara, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until Saturday March 14

The Three Lions by William Gaminara featuring Sean Browne (David Beckham), Tom Davey (Prince William

The Three Lions by William Gaminara featuring Sean Browne (David Beckham), Tom Davey (Prince William), Dugald Brucelockart (David Cameron). - Credit: Geraint Lewis

The premise behind this deceptively simple but riotously funny comedy is this: put David Beckham, David Cameron and Prince William together in a cramped Swiss hotel room and see how they get on.

The Three Lions by William Gaminara featuring Sean Browne (David Beckham), Tom Davey (Prince William

The Three Lions by William Gaminara featuring Sean Browne (David Beckham), Tom Davey (Prince William), Dugald Brucelockart (David Cameron). - Credit: Geraint Lewis

The titular Three Lions are in Switzerland to make England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Based on a real life meeting, William Gaminara’s play is brilliantly observed and is packed solid with more laughs than you can keep track of. It also moves with the speed of a bullet train detailing the 12 hours that these three national icons were together.

Although the play starts off as a comedy, before transforming itself into a farce, it ends on a thoughtful note asking questions about the relationship between politicians and the media which, in retrospect, gives the action some extra bite.

The play has been in development for two years and Silent Witness star William Gaminara has now honed this into a work of art. Comedy is difficult to do well and comedy about such recognisable people is even more difficult. Three Lions makes it look easy.

The secret is to allow the actors to play the famous names as characters rather than try to impersonate them. Although all three leads have mastered the vocal rhythms and tone of their real-life counterparts none of them make the mistake of trying to do an impression.

The Three Lions by William Gaminara featuring Sean Browne (David Beckham), Tom Davey (Prince William

The Three Lions by William Gaminara featuring Sean Browne (David Beckham), Tom Davey (Prince William), Dugald Brucelockart (David Cameron). - Credit: Geraint Lewis

They also make these well known faces into believable people. They make them human, which is important if the audience to care about them.

Dugald Bruce-Lockhart makes Cameron into a headmastery type character trying to keep his team-mates focussed on the task in hand. Sean Browne sees Beckham as a straight-forward nice-but-dim bloke, who is also rather hen-pecked, while Prince William is a bit of joker and is struggling to cope with the enormity of what is to happen to him when he marries Kate Middleton.

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The gags come and fast but the script is also very perceptive. The humour is based not just on the fact that the joke is funny but they also relate to what we know about the famous faces in the play.

In addition to the bid team, Three Lions provides meaty supporting roles for Antonia Kinlay as Cameron’s put-upon intern Penny and Ravi Aujla as the concierge twins Vikram and Asbok.

It may have only lasted 90 minutes but this stunning comedy was more than a play of two halves – it held a mirror up to the world and, happily, made us laugh. Whether you love football or theatre this has to be a must see show. It was a roaring success.

Andrew Clarke

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