Guest reviewer Nigel Stone gives his opinion of The King’s Speech.
Writer: David Seidler
Director: Roxana Silbert
The King’s Speech kicks off with a prince’s morning routine; being dressed by a footman and maid, whilst reading the newspaper.Judging from the expression on Raymond Coulthard’s face, as second in heir to the throne, life as a royal can be a tiresome nuisance. To add to such daily formalities the future King George VI did had a relatively tough childhood; forced to write with his right hand, despite being left handed, emotionally abused by his “mentally disturbed” nanny, and constantly teased for his stammer by his older brother Edward.
This stammer becomes a major problem when George V passes away, and Edward VIII abdicates for love. How can on earth can Bertie (as he is affectionately known) rule as a king, when he can’t even complete a sentence without stumbling with the words?
Enter Jason Donovan, perfectly cast as speech therapist Lionel Logue, who is hired to assist the new king to overcome his disability, in order to be able to deliver his speeches without sounding like a fool. The growing friendship between these two men is the heart of this play, so it’s a good job we end up caring about them; because to be honest, there are very few sympathetic characters in the story; and a lot of snobbery in there too. There is also talk of war, the rise of Hitler and the “blackshirt” nazis of England. But King George VI is no Henry V.
Technically, the set is a delight, and the movement on stage is both fluid and a joy to watch. Panels in the backdrop open up to reveal a BBC announcer, whilst stage exits and set changes look wonderfully natural. It would be unfair to judge a true story for its content, so the real question is, would an abolishonist care about what happens to the titular monarch? The answer is a resounding YES. Fans of the monarchy might shed a tear, but even this anti-royalist came out of the theatre moved by the play.
There is one last chance to see The King’s Speech, today in Leeds. Take it if you can.
As seen on 26 May, Leeds Grand Theatre
For more info on the issue of stammering see www.stammering.org
A great month so far with some beautiful ballet, cutting-edge circus, an Asian comedy, war drama, bittersweet musical, a history of Manchester, and some rather nice fish’n’chips!
Bromance @ Lawrence Batley Theatre
“Barely Methodical Troupe really know how to read and play a crowd and it is important to point out that at no point is this purely laddish behaviour or macho posturing. Yes, it is about male bonding, but a type that reveals a vulnerable sensitivity and softness all of its own.”
Ballet Central @ Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre
“A wonderful evening with a great variety of approaches all met with exuberant energy by the Ballet Central performers to carry the audience along with them all the way.”
One of Each @ Wetherby Whaler, Guiseley
“An entirely unusual show in both form and content which sees writer Deborah McAndrew at the top of her game.”
The Deranged Marriage @ West Yorkshire Playhouse
“..this is an ensemble piece masterfully directed and craftily written by Kumar and captured by the cast with verve and veracity.”
Birdsong @ West Yorkshire Playhouse
“This is a totally immersive experience with an extreme intensity and emotional depth obtained through stark realism in its depiction of the horrors of war. A plaintive and poignant cry for peace in our time that ends with Wiseman breaking the fourth wall to talk direct to audience in an impassioned finale.”
New Dawn Fades @ City Varieties Music Hall
“Highly recommended for both its fascinating historical depth and poignant lyrical beauty.”
Carousel @ Leeds Grand Theatre
“Keith Higham shines as Billy Bigelow in Opera North’s ravishing revival that gives a rousing rendition of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.”
Here are the Rich pickings for April – a range including seminal American drama, cutting edge dance, accessible opera, pop revival and pure trash – ENJOY!
A View from the Bridge @ Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
“This Touring Consortium production of Arthur Miller’s seminal play on the failure of the American Dream gradually builds tension to a fever pitch..”
Alexander Whitley: The Measures Taken @ Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre
“Whitley’s approach is innovative and inventive and his company attain a high bar in the quality of performance that complements its immaculate staging. What is particularly poignant is the use of dance, light and music to produce a powerful and profound piece that is more than the sum of its parts.”
Opera North/The Wrong Crowd: Swanhunter @ Howard Assembly Room
“A wonderfully magical and cathartic piece that is truly immersive and particularly profound. The Wrong Crowd excel at superb storytelling that makes us all identify with and feel for the characters and allow a suspension of disbelief to make the use of props and puppetry even more imaginative.”
Shafted! @ Theatre Royal Wakefield
Godber is at the top of his game in this his 68th play; and as a historical document this will enlighten those who didn’t live through or understand the miners’ strike and its significance.
John Godber interview: Part One http://www.thepublicreviews.com/interview-john-godber-part-i/
Little Sure Shot @ West Yorkshire Playhouse
“Verity Kirk shines brightly as Annie Oakley in an exploration of this ambitious girl’s life and times that serves as a powerful female role model with an incredible stage presence and multifaceted approach.”
Interview with Little Sure Shot director Amy Leach http://www.thepublicreviews.com/interview-ten-minutes-with-amy-leach/
Marc Almond @ Leeds town Hall
“Many Marc Almond fans have this date in the diaries since last year, when the maverick king of kitsch released The Dancing Marquis EP. This concert marks a real return to form (though he’d never been far away!) with a release that marks a renewal of Almonds creative output.”
Penelope RETOLD @ Holbeck Underground Ballroom
National Dance Company of Wales – Mixed Programme @ Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre
“The programme is a resounding tour de force that reveals NDCW as a company at the top of their game with a confidence and intelligence all of their own.”
The Mist in the Mirror @ Theatre Royal Wakefield
In Act Two things become even more ludicrous and unbelievable (the first demanded much suspension of disbelief) and this is not a spoiler but suffice it to say the denouement direly disappoints leaving us unimpressed if not a little depressed. Sorry to say it, but this is a turkey.