THE standing ovation was richly deserved for the cast of The King’s Speech.
Having been at yesterday (Monday, February 27) night’s launch of its six-night run at the Theatre Royal in Brighton, I can confirm it is two hours of flawless and thoroughly enjoyable theatre.
The narrative follows King George VI, whose ascension to the throne comes at a personal price as he struggles to get his life-long stammer under control. It is a story made famous by the film of the same name released in 2010, and the play, while sticking largely to the same script, has some subtle differences which serve to give you a deeper understanding of certain characters.
King George VI (Charles Edwards), or Bertie as he is known to family and friends, forms an unlikely bond with Aussie speech therapist Lionel Logue (Jonathan Hyde) as he uses unconventional techniques to help him overcome his speech problems.
Edwards is fantastic at conveying the stuffy, stiff upper-lip persona of the king, which is gradually thawed by Logue’s laid-back approach, while Hyde’s performance shows genuine warmth, ensuring the audience can’t help but love Logue.
But it’s the dynamic between Lionel and his wife Myrtle (Charlotte Randle) which adds an extra dimension to play over film, with the audience getting to see Myrtle’s unhappiness at not being unable to return to her home country, as Logue chooses his relationship with the king ahead of returning to Australia.
More is also made of Winston Churchill’s role in trying to keep Bertie’s brother David, Kind Edward VIII (Daniel Betts) on the throne. We see him suggesting a deal which would see David and his girlfriend, controversial American socialite Wallis Simpson, sign a deal that would mean she could never become queen.
Other stand-out performances came from acting heavyweight Joss Ackland, as King George V, which added the necessary gravitas to the role, and also the instantly-recognisable Ian McNeice as Winston Churchill.
While a slightly comic turn came from Michael Feast, playing the Archbishop of Canterbury, who certainly did not hold back in his disdain for the relationship between the king and his speech therapist.
On top of the superb acting, what also served to make the whole spectacle so impressive was the stage. The space had been used so cleverly thanks to a giant screen in the middle of a revolving platform, which mean sets could be changed more frequently; really helping to the flow of the production.
The sound was also excellent, as any speeches were delivered into the old-fashioned microphones which actually delivered them in the 1930s sound.
There is nothing I didn’t like about The King’s Speech. It was a slick piece of theatre with excellence on display both on and off stage. I’d highly, highly recommend it.
The show is on until Saturday (March 3) and some tickets are still available. To book, call 0844 8717650 or visit www.atgtickets.com/brighton