The Only Way Is Downton at Trafalgar StudiosCultureTheatre
The first thing to relay about The Only Way Is Downton, if you hadn’t already got an inkling from the name, is that it’s cringingly mainstream. However, as a transfer from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it was a sell-out show last summer, The Only Way Is Downton proves itself to be a crowd pleaser at both ends of the nation.
Luke Kempner performs this one-man showcase of impressions to a middle-class, largely female audience, who clearly think Kempner is the cutest thing since baby Sybil. The die-hard Downton Abbey fans among us relish the myriad of references to past plotlines, with jokes about Edith’s poor love life and Matthew’s poor driving skills. Those of us who haven’t a clue who the Dowager Countess of Crawley is at the start soon cotton on, thanks to Kempner’s spot-on femininely Scottish brogue, mimicking Maggie Smith’s character perfectly.
However, this isn’t just a show for Downton fans, although it does help if you know your Lord Grantham from your Tom Branson. Kempner does the job of pleasing the whole audience with impression after impression of British pop culture favourites, proving he’s no one trick pony. Talking of ponies, if you’ve ever wanted to envisage a bumpy afternoon horse ride on the Downton grounds with Bruno Tonioli and the John Bishop, this is your chance.
Kempner does what he does superbly and the production, being well paced and well scripted, offers the perfect showcase of his talents. Held back by the form, Kempner’s show feels slightly stretched, with the inclusion of an unnecessary interval in order to pad out the already padded 90 minutes of action.
With skittish bursts of The Only Way Is Essex, The X Factor, an interview with Andy Murray at Wimbledon, The Great British Bake Off and Pointless, Kempton’s production is the amalgamation of everything we love to hate about mainstream British culture. Your mum will love it.
The Only Way Is Downton is on at Trafalgar Studios until 22nd February 2014, for further information or to book visit here.