David Seidler’s The King’s Speech was conceived as a stage play. Serendipity found it transposed to the cinema; now it comes to the theatre as Adrian Noble’s production tours its way to the West End. It promised to be a good night out. Sadly it was not. I felt it was a cowardly production that did not stray from cinematographic territory.
The clumsy revolve twirled us through ‘sound bite’ scenes and the flickering film back projection reeled out scenes from Pathé news to little dramatic effect. Worst of all, in the first half, we strained to hear what the actors were saying.
However the play version allows Seidler to flesh-out the homesick Mrs Logue and her relationship with her husband, the speech therapist, Lionel. The minor characters looked well, but you felt that even the most experienced actors – David Killick, Ian McNeice and Michael Feast hadn’t really found their feet. The sadness that was Joss Ackland as George V seemed a particularly opportunist piece of casting. He managed a tiny appearance as the ailing George V but the curtain call seemed too much for him.
For me, the best scenes were those with Logue (Jonathan Hyde) and Bertie (Charles Edwards). This stammering king’s two-handers with a well-conceived Logue were especially convincing. The king and the king maker – two men in a room, that’s all we needed.
Image by Manuel Harlan