The King’s Speech – A Chichester Festival Theatre and Birmingham Repertory Theatre Co-production
I went to see The King’s Speech at the Chichester Festival Theatre with my school, and it was a Chichester Festival Theatre and Birmingham Repertory Theatre co-production. The play went just as I had hoped it would; the comedic, and sometimes tense, atmosphere made it an entertaining production to watch.
The speech therapist Lionel Logue and King George VI have a very unusual friendship, and Jason Donovan and Raymond Coulthard displayed their surprisingly close relationship very well. Because Lionel is only a therapist, and George is the King, their friendship is very hesitant at first but Donovan and Coulthard show how the unlikely pair develop into close friends. Their friendship is tested by their wives (who seem to have a mutual dislike for each other) and other elements, as well as George’s problem with speech.
At the beginning of the play, there is a spotlight on Coulthard and he demonstrates his hesitation to speak because he stutters, and his mouth moves only slightly. The shuffling of his feet and the way his hands and voice tremble further emphasise how nervous the King is. Then, he visits Lionel, on account of the fact that his wife Queen Elizabeth booked an appointment for him with the Australian therapist. Lionel, throughout the play, provokes George to get the King annoyed enough to raise his voice and to start speaking without a stutter. Coulthard paced around the room when his character was angry, and his raised his voice when he was being provoked by Donovan.
I noticed that music always played and the lighting dimmed to a pitch black whenever the set was being rearranged. The props that they used had wheels so that the stage management team could easily manoeuvre the props without fear of making any noise, which would ruin the atmosphere. I found it clever how the stage was managed by people who were in uniform according to the scene, so it didn’t look unusual. They were quick and efficient on arranging the set which was impressive.
The music and lighting changed according to the atmosphere which was very effective. When the King and Lionel were in Lionel’s study, the lighting dimmed so that it created an almost blue hue, and that made the room look dusty. The props in the room made it look clustered as well which was really effective and made the room seem as if it was real.
The doors in the walls were put to good use, because they served as doors to extra rooms, meaning that the actors didn’t walk through invisible doorways. The music changed from classical (in the scene where Lionel puts on the record player) to triumphant when the Royal family appeared on stage. In the ballroom scene, the whole stage was lit up, and ballroom music played in the background. At times when the atmosphere was tense, the music changed to a darker genre, and this further creates and sustains the dramatic tension. The use of different music genres was carefully chosen.
The clothes the actors wear represent the time period in which the play was set, in the 1930’s, when Hitler was in power in his Nazi Germany. We know that Hitler was in power at the time this play was