Review: Prince Andrew The Musical

Our Website Didn't Let Me Give This 0 Stars 1 stars.

In 1997, Channel 4’s revered satirical show Brass Eye did a sketch on ‘Sutcliffe The Musical’, a hilarious spoof news story about the serial killer being given a big West End musical. Now 25 years later, Channel 4 has aired Prince Andrew The Musical, an hour long “reimagining of the Duke of York’s very public fall from grace” which proudly takes its place alongside Diana The Musical in the quickly-building Former Royals Musical Cinematic Universe. And as the score at the top of this review spoils, I very much hope nobody attempts a third entry.

The best way to dissect this abomination of satire is to dive straight into it. The opening of this show was bizarrely confusing, beginning on a recreation of the Emily Maitlis interview, then abruptly changing from the recreation to playing footage with a voiceover of Andrew’s own thoughts in a style that mimics The Room Next Door without any of the occasional intelligence or bite. The musical does settle into a rhythm, with musical numbers interspersed with narrated footage recounting Prince Andrew’s life from his perspective.

I did enjoy some of the songs as purely musical pieces, mainly because I am a music ageusiast whose musical opinions should never be trusted. This was largely due to Kieran Hodgson who does a good job playing the Prince. The parts of just him singing were almost enjoyable, and I do think with stronger material he could carry a satirical portrayal of the disgraced Prince well. Unfortunately, the material he had was incredibly weak, and at times was insulting to both the audience and the victims at the heart of the scandal.

The production was very much “Prince Andrew The Musical” rather than “The Prince Andrew Scandal The Musical”, with the show detailing the Prince’s rise, marriage and eventual fall rather than being entirely about the fall which has rightly overcome his public image. One of the opening numbers goes to great lengths to detail Prince Andrew’s achievements like being a Falklands War fighter pilot and being ‘more revered than Charles’, and the opening 20 minutes actively made me think more favourably about a man who recently settled a sexual assault case.

The team behind the musical had a 50 minute opportunity to tear apart the entire Prince Andrew scandal, a national outrage with serious accusations which go right to the top of this country, and they choose to spend 30 minutes giving the people accused of horrible things big celebratory musical numbers. Oddly the musical is strongest in the non-musical sections, and some of the times where Andrew’s self-aggrandising narration was undercut by real news footage made me exhale air out of my nose (which is more than I expected going into the programme).

However, even in this the main message seemed to be that Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson are posh ignorant fools who should be laughed at for being posh ignorant fools rather than anything else. This is, quite simply, bad satire. One of the earliest examples of satire is the court jester, making jokes about things nobody else would dare bring up. The creators of this musical seem like a court jester on their first day of the job, still too scared to say anything actually offensive so they stick to things the crowd has already been chanting for years.

After 42 minutes, Jeffrey Epstien finally turns up (in the form of real footage, rather than any actual portrayal) and I have never been more happy to see a convicted sex offender. Then we immediately cut away to give Charles a song about Ferguson, as if the musical wants to do anything but talk about the main story in its main character’s life. The scandal was almost always just a line in the song, never the main topic.

In the final act of the musical the Prince’s fall is covered, and I almost wish they hadn’t bothered. The entire saga is boiled down to Charles vs Andrew singing and dancing about how best to save the family’s reputation. Unbelievably, The Queen is scarcely even mentioned the entire time, and it was cowardly to avoid including her and her massive role in the saga from the musical in favour of making the central conflict between the two royals nobody really likes anyway.

This is all topped off with a disgusting ending slate where a black screen soberly states that despite settling a sexual assault case, Prince Andrew still remains in several major roles. This would have been an effective close to the show, had the previous hour not been one of the most positive and upbeat portrayals of Andrew’s life that’s been put to screen in the past decade.

It fails as a satire of the scandal as it doesn’t care about the scandal, it doesn’t care about taking on the sheer scale of the lies and hurt, and it sure as shit doesn’t care about the victims. The only purpose of Prince Andrew The Musical was the same purpose of My Massive Cock: to exist as a THING called “Prince Andrew The Musical”, to be advertised as “Prince Andrew The Musical”, to have days of discussion about whether Channel 4 should air something called “Prince Andrew The Musical” then have people watch it anyway.

Despite there being good elements, the musical’s multiple failings on a scandal this serious and sensitive means it is unwatchable. Prince Andrew The Musical doesn’t deserve your viewership, or even your apathy; it deserves your active hatred, but since we’ve all got a lot on at the moment, the most I can ask of you is that you just don’t watch it.