THEATRE REVIEW - The King’s Speech

THE rain lashed down on Quay Street as the first night audience disappeared under a forest of umbrella. But the storm outside was nothing compared with the soon happenings on stage.
A scene from The King's Speech at Manchester Opera HouseA scene from The King's Speech at Manchester Opera House
A scene from The King's Speech at Manchester Opera House

The stage version of the King’s Speech has been created following the award-winning film of the same name from five years ago.

In addition to the thrill of seeing a play (instead of a musical) on the Opera House stage, the play itself was an absorbing first class story, superbly acted and well capturing the turmoil in the royal household in the 1930s.

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To put it simply, it’s the story of a stuttering prince who, thanks or no thanks to his philandering brothers, is forced to take the crown of England. In short, it’s just one of the background stories associated with the dication crisis which altered royal history in the House of Windsor.

The set is wonderfully imaginative – doors on different levels opening and closing, a quarter of a very royal looking curtain, and stage sky of little gliders.

As the terrified and timid Duke of York (the king in waiting), Raymond Coulthard (TV’s Mr Selfridge) has amazing stage presence and his speech impediment is at the same time enthralling is masterly. He rules the royal stage.

Pop icon of a few years ago, Jason Donovan proves himself as the unqualified speech therapist, Lionel Logue. Dressed in the his 1930s suit, his hair slapped down, Jason comes into his own in the second act, dancing around the stage and refusing to give up on the stuttering desolate Bertie. He makes the part his own.

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We are treated to an array of “royals” including Bertie’s wife, played with nippy success by Claire Lams. Nicholas Blaine made a great Winston Churchill, and as the abdicating king and Wallace Simpson, Jamie Hinde and Jamie Hind and Felicity Houlbrook share praise.

The King’s Speech, written by David Seidler, is a night of pure professional theatre set in a time when the monarchy well and truly wobbled.

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