Skip to main content

The King's Speech

Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Four stars

When a rather serious looking man comes out from behind a solitary blue curtain into an old-school wood-panelled BBC sound studio wearing just a vest, socks and undershorts, only his stately gait suggests he's about to become King of England during one of the most volatile periods of twentieth century history. Exposed in this way at the start of Roxana Silbert's revival of David Seidler's play, it really is a case of emperor's new clothes as a bustle of servants burl about the man known to his intimates as Bertie, dressing and feeding him while he looks on with bemused surrender.

When Bertie opens his mouth he's left even more vulnerable by a terminal stammer that renders his already stilted social graces even more disempowered. By flatly refusing to doff his cap to such stuffiness, vulgarian Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue is the only person who can help the future King George VI find his voice and give him the authority to lead his country into war and beyond the constitutional crisis of his brother's abdication.

There is a wonderfully heightened quality to Silbert's production that points to the fragile pretences of both men as failed performers who find a mutual strength beyond what both believe they're capable of. Raymond Coulthard's initially uptight Bertie and Jason Donovan's Logue spark off each other furiously, with Donovan projecting witty and withering disdain towards both church and state. It is the play's final scene as King George talks to the nation that proves the most moving, however. As he grows in confidence while Logue's model aeroplanes are lowered, it is as if they are both taking flight as equals.
 
The Herald, March 19th 2015

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …