Wednesday, November 21, 2018

'The Madness of George III' by Alan Bennett

21 November 2018

On Tuesday we fought our way through the crowds to the Odeon at Milton Keynes Stadium (not having realised that Brazil were playing Cameroon in an international friendly football match at Stadium MK!) to see the live broadcast of Adam Penford’s new production of ‘The Madness of George III’ from Nottingham Playhouse. Alan Bennett’s play was written in 1991 and, although I had seen Nicholas Hytner’s 1994 film ‘The Madness of King George’ starring Nigel Hawthorne, I had not previously seen the original play. It’s a darker, more serious play than I had realised and it’s interesting to consider how our attitudes to mental illness have changed in the 27 years since it was first performed. It is not without humour but Alan Bennett allows this to come from characterisation rather than witty wordplay. The Nottingham Playhouse production has a strong cast, with Adrian Scarborough determined and dour as the unconventional doctor brought in to treat the King. But the play is a star vehicle and Mark Gatiss is superb as George III, showing his descent into mental illness through an incremental accumulation of small tics and mannerisms. He has the ability to turn his mood on a sixpence – even more evident in the close-ups provided by the live screening. His King is simultaneously funny, petulant, intelligent, domineering and incredibly sympathetic.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home