Current Issue #488

The boy who would be king

The boy who would be king

He’s the most famous five-year-old in the world but what will Prince George be like in 2028? With his debut play, The Boy, George, Patrick Livesey ponders this question in his satire of fame and Insta-celebrity.

Livesey, who is a Melbourne-based Adelaidean, was preparing an autobiographical play last year but then a certain wedding of a prince and television star captured the world’s attention, including that of the young playwright and actor’s family.

“My grandma flew over to watch it with my sister and myself,” Livesey says of the 2018 Royal Wedding. “I was watching her [his grandma] totally captivated by the spectacle of it, and I thought it was so funny. After thinking about it for the next few days, I decided, ‘What the hell, I’ll stop writing about me and start writing about Prince George’.”

Why George?

“George isn’t really a fully-formed person yet, he’s just a kid, so I had creative licence to make him into the person I wanted him to be,” says Livesey, who plays the future king queer.

“I definitely didn’t make that decision because of anything I noticed in him,” Livesey says. “I think he’s his own person. He’s got to grow up and become whoever he is. For me, as a performer and a writer, I want to write and put queer characters out there, and I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to do that.”

Patrick Livesey in The Boy, George

The Boy, George premiered at last year’s Melbourne Fringe with the one-person play enjoying a sold-out season, winning the NZ Tour Ready Award. In the play, the future king is a spoiled, rich 14-year-old Etonian who is busy watching the throne. For his satire of status of privilege, Livesey uses George as a vehicle to commentate on where society is heading. So, will the royals be more Kardashian-like in the future, curating their lives on Instagram and social media?

“It’s interesting, watching them now they are cultivating so much attention in a very controlled way,” he says. “I think they’re going to grow in popularity but it will be very controlled. They run a tight ship and they know exactly how they want to be perceived.”

Livesey grew up in a royal-friendly household in Adelaide.

“I think like most people my age I had a Diana-obsessed mum. Completely obsessed. We had the coffee table book, we had the biographies, we had everything even the tea sets with Prince William’s face on them,” he laughs. “I don’t know if it’s a uniquely Adelaide thing but I felt all the women in my life were particularly fascinated with the royals.

“I think growing up it naturally bred a curiosity in me: what’s so fascinating about these people? Why do they captivate so much of our attention?”

With the republican debate simmering, Livesey believes the royals represent a nostalgia that-never-was to Australians.

“Our history is so messy and not really explored in its truth, so I think we like to look at the royal family as this example of a shiny history that never was and pretend we all come from this beautiful clean-cut castle-living world, which we don’t.”

The Boy, George
Tuesday, March 5 to Sunday, March 17

Holden Street Theatres, The Studio

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