Apologies for my blog silence in recent weeks/months. At fault is a combination of being busy at work, wssting too much time on Twitter, leading a rather dull and uneventful life and being too damned lazy. Will try harder in all cases.
Anyway, to kick off an attempted revival of this blog, a delayed – and very short – review of The King’s Speech, which I attended at Richmond Theatre last week in an event organised by the theatre and Twespians.
I suppose that, in a play about a man who struggles with a stammer, it’s kind of appropriate that this play consists of several short, frustrating scenes that the playwright (and the audience) has to struggle through before getting to periods of lucidity.
Or maybe it’s just that, after the unproduced play was adapted into a successful, Oscar-winning film, the producers decided to prioritise brand recognition over script quality.
Maybe that’s a bit harsh. There are several long sequences which provide enthralling moments of theatre, mostly involving a suitably regal Charles Edwards as Bertie, the Duke of York who becomes enthroned as George VI, and his Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (played by Jonathan Hyde). Logue’s demolition of Bertie’s social and mental barriers – by methods which chiefly consist of just ignoring them – help prepare the Duke prepare for a life in the spotlight which he never wanted as he replaces his brother David, the disgraced Edward VIII, on the throne.
And you know the rest, especially if, in common with the rest of the English speaking world, you have seen Colin Firth’s Oscar-winning performance in the film. So you can sit back, enjoy the unfolding drama (interspersed with clunky expositional scenes, some delivered by Ian McNeice’s portrayal of a Churchill far older than he was at this point in history, and who now looks more like the floppy-jowled star of the car insurance adverts).
And you too can get immensely frustrated by the over-reliance on a stage revolve. At the beginning of the second act, some scenes are directed by Adrian Noble in a walk-and-talk approach on the revolve. One gets the impression that the director was going for an Aaron Sorkin, West Wing-style approach: unfortunately it feels more like Dorothy on the yellow brick road in the Palladium’s Wizard of Oz.
After a short tour of the UK, this production arrives at Wyndham’s theatre in the West End later this month.