Knights of The Rose

Knights of the rose
Knights of the Rose

Knights of the Rose is the newest Jukebox musical to hit the stage. It describes itself as a ‘classic rock musical of Shakespearean proportions.’ It tells of the House of Rose, the heir to the throne, Prince Gawain is the leader of the army and his sister, the Princess, is of course beautiful and the object of many of the Knights affection. When the Knights return from their latest battle Prince Gawain falls for Lady Isabel and both Sir Hugo and Sir Palamon fall for Princess Hannah, although her affections are returned to Sir Hugo. Peacetime does not stay for long however and soon the Knights have to return to battle leaving them not only to fight for their king and country but also survival to return home to the women they love.

Knights of the RoseKnights of the Rose’s first problem is that it isn’t sure what it is trying to be. The juxtaposition of a show being set in medieval times with rock songs means that it needs careful consideration on how to make it work. One such method would be to go for the comedy angle like they do in shows such as Rock of Ages but unfortunately the show takes itself much too seriously resulting in it being humorous for all the wrong reasons. There were moments in the show that were supposed to be moving however murmurs of laughter echoed around the audience, meaning it was clearly apparent that it wasn’t just me that felt this way. The book itself has no subtly, especially when introducing the next musical number. It would have been better to simply acknowledge this, make this a conscious comedy choice and ham it up, which had potential to be very amusing.

The storyline itself also needs further attention. For example the audience discovers that not only does Prince Gawain love Lady Isabel but so does Sir Horatio however after the number that introduces this concept this is forgotten about until it is mentioned briefly during act 2 leaving me thinking that this declaration of love was unnecessary. John, the messenger boy also divulges how he is in love with Emily, one of the Princess’ Ladies-in-Waiting; Emily also overhears parts of a plot but never divulges this and the audience discover that Lady Isabel is an orphan, taken in by the King and Queen… confused? So was I, especially as none of these story arcs are developed leaving the show show feeling underdeveloped.

Knights of the roseThe songs are all undisputed classics although I’m not sure how songs such as Enrique Iglesias’ ‘Hero’ ends up in the same musical as Bon Jovi’s ‘Bed of Roses.’ These classics also seemed to tail off towards the end of the show and rather than finishing on a rock classic the last few numbers are oddly Mozart and more traditional folk songs. For a show that promises rock and with a huge amount of song choice (subject to rights availability) it was a bizarre choice to finish with numbers of this kind.

Luckily the cast itself were the redeeming feature about Knights of The Rose. Katie Birtill as Princess Hannah and Rebekah Lowings as Lady Isabel proved that women can not only sing rock but really own it. Oliver Savile as Sir Hugo also proved why he was a West End leading man and despite the weak character he was given still managed to be likeable and of course undeniably able to sing anything that is thrown at him in this show.  Chris Cowley as Sir Palamon and Ruben Van Keer as John also stood out for their impressive vocals. I think I would have enjoyed the evening more if the cast simply performed these rock numbers in a concert setting and avoided trying to tie them together.

This strong cast combined with songs that everyone loves was not enough to save Knights of The Rose. This is a show which, if it wants to progress further, needs to embrace the comedy and take a critical look at the book.

A big thanks to Seatplan for sending me to see Knights of the Rose. Do check out their website for theatre tickets as well as views from seats from many theatres.

Knights of the Rose is playing at the Arts Theatre until the 26th August.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Heathers, Sunset Boulevard (starring Adam Pearce from this cast), Lizzie (another rock musical starring Bleu Woodward who plays Emily) and Bat Out of Hell.


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