Gird your loins for a lacerating, camp-drenched celebration of narcissistic megalomania as London-based Australian actor, Chris Ioan Roberts returns to Melbourne to present his acclaimed show, Dead Royal at fortyfivedownstairs for a strictly limited season from 23 August 2016.
Set in Villa Windsor, Paris, 1981; Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson (82) invites Lady Diana Spencer (19) to a doom-laden bachelorette party on the eve of her wedding to Charles, Prince of Wales. The Duchess frantically warns Diana to flee her looming nuptials, before she marries the wrong man and becomes immortalised as a desperate woman eager to crawl over broken glass to snatch a royal title.
“I was inspired by the role non-royal women have played in maintaining the slightly ersatz mystique of monarchy,” says Roberts. “I wondered what would happen if two of history’s most controversial women happened to have met over a light lunch of lobster thermidor and a few Sobranie cocktail cigarettes.”
Playing both Simpson and Spencer, Roberts’ melodrama lays bare history’s merciless judgement of civilians who get sucked into the thick swamp of royal mediocrity, and Britain’s corrosive obsession with Princess Diana.
For producer Cameron Lukey (Master Class and Resident Alien – both presented at fortyfivedownstairs), the concept was irresistible – “I’m fascinated by anything that imagines the life behind the legend, that plays with or breaks down our idea of iconic figures,” says Lukey.
One of London’s most subversive and arresting actor-directors, Chris Ioan Roberts trained at the Victorian College of the Arts (Bachelor of Dramatic Art, 2010) in Melbourne. His work includes a critically celebrated performance as troubled teenager Lee in Crossed at La Mama, Phillip in Home Economics at The Store Room, and as Anders Breivik in The Economist for MKA Theatre of New Writing (Berlin).
In 2010, Roberts was invited as the sole Australian actor to attend an international summer residency in New York with iconic American director Robert Wilson at the Watermill Centre, where he collaborated on projects for La Scala, the National Theatre of Athens, and in early 2011 as a Creative Associate with Opéra national de Paris on Wilson’s production of Madama Butterfly (Opera Bastille).
Other recent work as an actor includes the Soldier in Tongues (Tristan Bates Theatre London), Malvolio/Antonio in Twelfth Night (VCA), Gudgeon in Daniel Schlusser’s The Hollow (VCA), Weiskopf in Ghetto, Lucio in Innocence: The Life and Death of Caravaggio (VCA), as well as workshops for new productions of Measure for Measure (with Joe Hill-Gibbins), and Anya Reiss’ adaptation of The Seagull (Actor’s Centre London with Russell Bolam).
Dead Royal premiered at London’s Ovalhouse as part of their 2015 Spring Season to critical acclaim, and was seen at the 2015 Brisbane Festival, where audiences were both appalled and enthralled. He lives in Soho and works for the Royal National Theatre.
“Unique and enthralling, this is a bravura turn from Chris Ioan Roberts that is savagely funny and remarkably thoughtful and penetrating.” – britishtheatre.com
Actor / Writer / Director: Chris Ioan Roberts Production Designer: Robin Soutar Lighting Designer: Alex Hopkins Assistant Director: Alex Rand Original Costume Designer: Dinu Bodiciu Wigs: Sally Tynan Composer: Duncan Boyce
fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: 24 – 28 August 2016 (preview: 23 August)
For more information, visit: www.chrisioanroberts.com for details.
Image: Chris Ioan Roberts stars in Dead Royal – photo by Patricia Oliviera