Gerry Connolly has been impersonating Queen Elizabeth for so long, he could be her understudy. It feels natural to ask him, as a proxy, how the Queen feels about Harry and Meghan’s decision to leave the gilded nest.
“She would be of two minds, I think,” says Connolly. “That is, they can do what they like, on one hand. But, as Harry said, she’s the commander in chief and his boss, and it would have been a real tear for a grandmother and the boss of the firm trying to keep their brand in tact.”
However, a defecting grandson is not quite as bad as the defective son (Andrew).
Connolly is presenting his new show, The Rise and Disguise of Elizabeth R at the Hayes Theatre as part of Mardi Gras Festival. The show features Connolly as the Queen and several other characters. He will, of course, discuss all the latest dramas at Buckingham Palace – of which there are plenty.
“It’s a daily gift. We now have to get a forklift and a front end loader to move the material around,” he laughs.
While Connolly will mostly perform monologue style pieces in character, he will have a very small support cast.
“There’s a male ensemble and a female ensemble. The female ensemble is Laura Murphy – just one person. And the male is Rob Mallet,” explains Connolly. “And I wear one. It’s a matching ensemble and it’s not just a twin set and pearls – we go deeper.”
While the Queen is his mainstay, Connolly has some other favourites he likes to resurrect now and then.
“I had an opportunity last year to trot out my Joh Bjelke Peterson. He was definitely a favourite. And Margaret Thatcher – there’s not much call for her. And another one is Paul Keating. I’d say those are mine, in no particular order.”
But there’s no one among the current crop of world figures that he’s been tempted to do.
“No, because I don’t follow politics. I’m not a political tragic anymore. I’m sort of over it… it’s slim pickings. None of them interest me as people – apart from how they irritate me. To render them you have to have some kind of affection or connection.”
And once the Queen is gone, he’ll stop doing her too – if not before.
“I don’t want to be left carrying her corpse around because I’m rather tired of people saying ‘what are you going to do when she dies – or if she dies?’”
Connolly doesn’t feel too sentimental about it and he believes neither does the Queen.
“She knows the end is near. She hasn’t got any new corgis, she hasn’t replaced the last corgi that died.”
The Rise and Disguise of Elizabeth R, Feb 13 – Mar 1, $55/$65, Hayes Theatre Co, 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point, www.hayestheatre.com.au