Cast: Raymond Coulthard, Jason Donovan, Martin Turner, William Hoyland, Claire Lams, Katy Stephens, Jamie Hinde.
Director: Roxana Silbert
Writer: David Seidler
Theatre: Leeds Grand Theatre
Duration: 140 minutes
The King’s Speech arrives at Leeds Grand Theatre this month as part of a national tour. The inspiration for the award-winning motion picture, the play tells the story of George VI as he is crowned King of England, following the scandalous abdication of his elder brother Edward VIII. A reluctant leader bound by duty, George assumes the throne with a life-long secret: a severe speech impediment and fear of public speaking. Instigated by his wife Elizabeth, George begins an unorthodox term of therapy with Australian thespian Lionel Logue in a hope to prepare the King for a global address, upon which confidence in the entire British Empire hangs.
Like all fine drama documentary, The King’s Speech telescopes events and composites characters into a workable set-piece which has tension and pace, if not wholly burdened with historical accuracy. George VI, affectionately known as Bertie, is written with a rigid stoicism, typifying the attitude that the monarchy are stiff and detached beings, whilst Logue is polarized into an free-wheeling eccentric bohemian. The collision of the two characters, and their conflicting personas, makes for an intriguing and often humorous scenario, yet one which makes you occasionally question the authenticity of events. That is not to say that David Seidler’s script isn’t a fine piece of writing; the dialogue is sympathetic to the period, with an authenticity which avoids the trap of period pieces sounding like audible print. At just over two hours, the play admirably covers a relatively simple tale with pathos, levity and focus, with a level of detail that fortifies a depth to a world in which it is easy to become utterly adsorbed.
A Night at