REVIEW: The King’s Speech @ the Opera House, Manchester

Raymond Coulthard (King George VI) & Jason Donovan (Lionel Logue). Picture by Hugo Glendinning (1)With the memory of the film still fresh in most people’s minds it was always going to be a tough task bringing the hugely popular King’s Speech back to the stage.

But one thing some less than imaginative direction of this production did achieve was to expose what is in fact a fairly flaky script and it wasn’t helped by the fact that some of the lines were thrown away, losing their impact.

Surprisingly, for me, one of the show’s strengths was Jason Donovan, who did a competent job in the role of Lionel Logue, the Australian speech therapist tasked with giving the reluctant King (Raymond Coulthard) the voice needed to rally a nation.

But too many performances fell short of the mark in this production and often appeared tired. OK, we know Edward was the baddie and a Nazi sympathiser – but did his portrayal have to be so caricatured? And whilst the take on Churchill was often bordering on the caricature, that of the Arch Bishop aiming to expose the disconnect between a stuffy establishment and the will of the people, was not enough of one.

The use of the panelled wall with doors at various levels was a good staging device, but for me, frustratingly, the production did not make the most of it.

And at times there was a touch of the AmDram about it, especially the scene at the party where characters seemed to be thrown onto the stage aimlessly in what reminded me of a drama student exercise.

There were times when the production had its moments and  looked as though it could be great but fell short at a number of points. Dare I say it, it stuttered.

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