Review: The Three Lions At The St. James Theatre

Posted on 30 March 2015

After an acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Festival in 2013 and a short national tour, William Gaminara’s very funny comedy The Three Lions arrives at the St. James Theatre for a short off West End season.

It’s the account of what went on when Prime Minister David Cameron, David Beckham and Prince William got together in a Swiss hotel to formulate a plan in support of England’s bid for the 2018 football World Cup. It’s a blend of fact and fiction. We know that they were there and we know how the vote eventually panned out, but what went on behind closed doors can only be speculated about and William Gaminara has a field day with his fictitious and often hilarious account.
The characters here conform very much to the popular images we already have of them; David Beckham is likeable but a bit thick, Cameron is arrogant, and Prince William is a nice bloke slightly weighed down by his position of state and longing to just be one of the boys.
It’s the exchanges between these three that dominate proceedings with the action taking place in hotel rooms as they plan and debrief their various meetings, and it’s all built around some nice running gags; in particular William inviting David to his forthcoming wedding but trying diplomatically to prevent Victoria from singing; Cameron constantly pestered by Nick Clegg, whose name he keeps forgetting and Beckham’s ongoing ignorance about everything from geography to basic grammar.
The humour is quite broad, we’re even treated to a couple of trouser dropping gags in the best tradition of British farce, but beneath it all is some biting satire about power, diplomacy, corruption and the eye watering sums of money that really drive the beautiful game these days.
Performances are uniformly good Dugald Bruce-Lockhart captures the essence of Cameron without trying a full-on impersonation, Sean Browne is a delight as David Beckham, not only nailing the voice, but also bearing a striking physical resemblance to the man, while Tom Davey imbues William with an easy-going charm and has the voice spot on. There is also terrific support from Antonia Kinlay as Cameron’s hapless PA and Ravi Aujla as an obsequious hotel porter.
The Three Lions at the St. James Theatre has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but it’s terrific entertainment with a sting in the tail.