Review Roundup: THE KING'S SPEECH UK Tour


Playful Productions and Michael Alden Productions present the world premier production of the original play of The King's Speech by David Seidler, who wrote The King's Speech as a play before it became a film for which he won both the Academy Award© and BAFTA for Best Screenplay. The production is currently touring the UK.

Charles Edwards - who recently appeared at Shakespeare's Globe opposite Eve Best in Much Ado About Nothing - plays George VI and Australian born Jonathan Hyde, who was recently seen in The Deep Blue Sea at Chichester Festival Theatre, plays speech therapist Lionel Logue.

David Seidler's story about how King George VI conquered his debilitating stammer with the help of maverick speech therapist Lionel Logue was one of 2010's most successful films, winning countless awards including four Academy Awards and seven BAFTAs and grossing over $400,000,000 worldwide at the Box Office.

Michael Billington, Guardian: It is a cracking good story and Seidler deserves credit for seeing its dramatic potential. And, even if the result often seems like a screenplay, the stage version allows Seidler more room to explore the story's political background. We are made more aware of the threat posed in 1936 by the Duke of York's brother, Edward VIII, not simply through his enthralment with Mrs Simpson but also because of his fascination with European fascism. The play reminds us, far more explicitly than the film, that he admired Hitler on the grounds there were "no Jews or communists in Germany".

Charles Spencer, Telegraph: On the face of it, this stage version of The King’s Speech might seem surplus to requirements, just a cynical attempt to squeeze a few more quid out of the Oscar-winning movie. Yet judging by the audience’s rapt, warm reaction at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, I have a hunch it will prove a deserved hit on tour and transfer to the West End.

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: In Adrian Noble's lucid production the central performances don't eclipse the memory of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in the film. This is relevant, as the audience for the stage version is surely people who have seen the film, rather than those who haven't. Yet the relationship is movingly portrayed. Charles Edwards is superb as the King, suggesting his humanity even as he conveys his mix of irascibility and diffidence.

Paul Taylor, Independent: Details that got left out of the film are reinstated. Emma Fielding is an amusingly tart stickler for protocol as Queen Elizabeth. The horribleness whereby Bertie's brother Edward VIII (Daniel Betts) tried to dish his brother by landing him with speeches he could not manage, while eventually saddling him with a crown he dreaded, comes through with a sickening force. I arrived thinking that this was a redundant exercise and leave with the thought that good material responds well to different approaches.

Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage: So this classy touring production, adroitly directed by former RSC supremo Adrian Noble and smartly and glossily designed on a revolving stage by Anthony Ward, is the play of the play, not even the play of the film. Oddly, many of the scenes are cinematically envisioned, and the stage show doesn’t always have the fluency of Tom Hooper’s movie.

Libby Purves, TimesCharles Edwards is terrific, using light-tenor jerkiness to convey the painful awkward inhibition of the royal predicament. When Logue first offers a handshake he puts his hat in the outstretched palm: grow up like that, and all the world’s a valet to you. At the end, offering his own hand, the royal Pinocchio becomes human.

Neil Norman, Daily Express: Though there is much here that was removed from the screenplay, it seems to move faster. There are conspicuous shifts of emphasis – David aka Edward VIII (Daniel Betts) is more malicious and cruelly cavalier towards his brother; speech therapist Lionel Logue (Jonathan Hyde) is a failed actor whose wife (Charlotte Randle) wants to return to Australia

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