Having only seen the movie of The King's Speech, I was eager to find out how the stage production played out at Manchester Opera House last night.

The King's Speech

The King's Speech

The play tells the story of King George VI who suffers from a terrible stammer- more so when he has to make public speeches. He begins to see an Australian speech and language therapist Lionel Logue who adopts unusual techniques to help him control his problem and eventually they become good friends. When King George's brother abdicates the throne, the pressure is on him more than ever to be able to deliver words of reassurance to his people as Britain declares war on Germany in 1939.

The set consisted primarily of a panelled, wooden screen that cleverly transformed into many different backgrounds. From a hallway boasting pictures of monarchs, an aeroplane, a radio booth, doorways to a stained glass window in Westminster Abbey. The design was like the origami of stage shows- I was fascinated by how versatile the set was. It looked very simple from the audience's point of view, however I am sure it is far more complicated from behind!

The change of set was done by extras dressed as maids and butlers, making a fast exchange that was in keeping with the tone of the play.

Having only seen Jason Donavan in Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, War of the Worlds and Neighbours, it was a privilege to watch him take on a more serious and stripped back role, a part which was ideally suited to him.

Raymond Coulthard was very convincing as the troubled King 'Bertie' as he struggled to maintain not his own dignity but that of his brother's too.

The chemistry between Donovan and Coulthard was spot on and the banter between them was a delight to watch and provided light relief against the family troubles and threatening news of war.

Katy Stephens was warm and excitable just like her on screen husband Lionel and they were the perfect husband and wife duo looking to make ends meet.

Claire Lams was restrained, poised, and the voice of reason for her beloved 'Bertie' in her performance as Queen Elizabeth and also provided some moments of comedy with her quick wit and sensible outlook.

I could not fault this performance for every part of it was like a well-oiled machine. From the set changes, the stage design, the rapport between all of the cast members and the script, which was succinct and poignant- it all gelled in this flawless production.

Having seen a lot of musicals lately, it was a well needed change. And as I had hoped, not a carbon copy of the movie script. An intelligent and charming production- an absolute triumph!

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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