Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Tour Heads To Leeds, Milton Keynes, Edinburgh And More
There's something quite majestic about the touring production of The King's Speech. It not only benefits from a superb cast but is crowned with a glorious stage set that is fit for a king. I caught the show at Malvern Theatres ahead of its stop-off in cities including Leeds, Edinburgh, Oxford, Milton Keynes and Truro until June.
Raymond Coulthard as King George VI in the tour of The King's Speech
It's a hard act to follow the film of the same name that won a multitude of top awards including the Oscar for Best Picture, but filling the shoes of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush as stuttering King George VI and his Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue are Raymond Coulthard and Jason Donovan.
The pair of actors have a wonderful chemistry as we follow their characters' unconventional relationship as they try to overcome the royal's speech problems.
Aside from this central relationship drama, the national crisis of Edward VIII's abdication to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson and the looming Second World War keep the story bubbling along nicely.
The grand set makes it even more watchable. It's floor to ceiling wood panelling with a wooden parkay floor and velvet curtains that slide across stage to break up the scenes and action. Amid the wood are secret doors and balconies from where radio announcers and the like appear.
Coulthard, a familiar face on television in series from Call The Midwife to Mr Selfridge, has realistically grasped the role, stuttering in a natural way rather than making the character a cliche.
Jason Donovan impresses in The King's Speech.
Donovan shows his aptitude for more serious acting compared to the usual musical roles he takes. His Logue is a lovable figure with energy, affection and plenty of bravado, no more enjoyably so than when he is making the stuffy Archbishop Cosmo Lang bristle. This comes during a standout scene in Westminster Abbey, when the king is practising for the coronation. It's funny, serious, emotional and powerful within the one scene - perfect theatre.
The archbishop is played by Martin Turner (Holby City, New Tricks) and just one of the strong cast that includes an impressive Claire Lams as Queen Elizabeth (recently seen in The Wrong Mans) and Nicholas Blane as a believable Winston Churchill.
The whole production is an intelligent drama and a very regal affair. It has earned a salute from me.