You’ve seen the film, now go and see the original format of The Kings Speech on stage at Wyndham’s Theatre! There are reasons why this version scores over the movie, the main one being that David Seidler has been able to reinstate many of the scenes thought unnecessary for his screenplay, thus making the political context much clearer.
One would think that Colin Firth’s portrayal of Bertie cannot be bettered but Charles Edwards wins by a nose. Perhaps it’s because he is less well known than the famous Mr. Firth, so there are no preconceptions, but his touching and very often funny portrayal seems much more believable. He also shows the Duke’s unpredictable temper and emotional isolation much more keenly. Jonathan Hyde as Logue is also superb and we see much more of the man’s theatricality and passion for stagecraft. The two men’s relationship is more detailed and I particularly enjoyed the scene where Lionel persuades Bertie to allow the future Queen Elizabeth to sit on her husband’s stomach to stimulate his breathing. Emma Fielding as Elizabeth is very good and shows the future Queen’s tart nature and insistence of the correct protocol at all times. Bertie’s state of mind is more understandable in this stage version, not only because of the bullying nature of his father, perfectly played by Joss Ackland but because his brother, David, is particularly horrible. Daniel Betts highlights the way the heir to the throne lands his younger sibling with speeches he cannot manage and continually mocks when addressing him as bbbbbBertie. We are also made more aware of the threat David posed, not only with his addiction to Mrs. Simpson but also his fascination with and admiration for Hitler.
If I have a criticism it is the odd static scene when the likes of Churchill, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Stanley Baldwin talk about affairs of state, but it is a minor grievance. Likewise, I would prefer a less camp Archbishop, but when Bertie and Logue are on stage together all these little nit picks disappear. The two actors have a chemistry that is by turns moving and totally believable.
Combine all these positives with the tight direction of Adrian Noble and the play is very well worth a visit.