THE KING’S SPEECH: David Seidler.
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 10m: one interval: till 18th February.
Performance times: 7.30pm, (Matinees 2.00pm Weds and 2.30pm Sat).
Review: Alan Geary: 13th October 2012.
As compelling as the film.
It isn’t simply the extract from Elgar’s Enigma Variations at the end that has you leaving the theatre feeling warm and positive – patriotic even. The King’s Speech is that sort of play. And this is a fine account of it: on an imaginative and effective set a clutch of high-order actors are working from a first-rate text.
Some effective use of back-projected film means that essential outdoor scenes can be brought into the package – cheering crowds outside the palace for instance, or Hitler ranting in Germany.
That’s not to say there are no negatives. The action has to switch from one location to the other, sometimes cinematically quickly, so it’s sensible to have an essentially empty stage, part of which revolves, to facilitate scene shifts. But frequently, for reasons of tempo, a scene begins before the necessary setting has revolved into place, and it can be annoying.
The play, albeit un-produced, preceded the film, and it’s interesting to compare them. More is made in the play of the married relationship between Lionel Logue and his wife Myrtle (Charlotte Randle); indeed Logue seems an altogether bigger character than he is in the film. And Churchill (Ian McNeice) and Cosmo Lang (Michael Feast), both well done even if McNeice is a bit bulky for the pre-war Churchill, are almost a comedy duo functioning as a Greek chorus.
George VI (Bertie) is beautifully done by Charles Edwards. And it’s not just the stuttering either: he gets the affronted class insecurity and the feeling of hopeless failure splendidly. He’s an entirely sympathetic character.
Jonathan Hyde’s Logue is even more compelling. There’s strength and kindness there combined with a boyish mischievousness. Logue is a failed actor, and the scenes where he’s being humiliated at auditions are extraordinarily touching. He and wife Myrtle – both Australians – are the chief butts in this play of the appalling snobbery and ethnic prejudice which are some of its most significant themes.
Directed by Adrian Noble, this is as compelling as the film, which is saying a lot.
Bertie, King George VI: Charles Edwards.
Queen Elizabeth: Emma Fielding.
Cosmo Lang: Michael Feast.
King George V: Joss Ackland.
Lionel Logue: Jonathan Hyde.
Myrtle Logue: Charlotte Randle.
David, King Edward VIII: Daniel Betts.
Winston Churchill: Ian McNeice.
Stanley Baldwin: David Killick.
Wallis Simpson: Lisa Baird.
Valet: Jeremy Bennett.
Valet: Andrew Malkin.
Ensemble: Adam Lilley.
Director: Adrian Noble.
Designer: Anthony Ward.
Lighting: Mark Henderson.
Sound: Mic Pool.
Projection: Jon Driscoll