Last Updated on 13th July 2023
Paul T Davies reviews The King’s Speech now playing as part of the Frinton Summer Theatre season.
The King’s Speech
Frinton Summer Theatre
12 July 2023
Frinton Summer Theatre Website
It’s astute scheduling for Frinton Summer Theatre to open the 2023 season with David Seidler’s play version of the classic film. We now have a King, and, as Frinton plays the national anthem before each performance, audiences have the chance to sing God Save The King for the first time. But the choice is not a cynical one, it is a play that contains a lot of heart, a brilliant central dynamic, and gives fans of history unique insights into the events leading up to the Second World War. Take away Royalty and King George VI was a man with a terrible stammer, in a time when there was much mockery and bullying of those with speech impediments, and the drama arises when he is thrust into the role of King following the abdication of his brother. Australian wanna-be Shakesperean actor Lionel Logue is the man who helps the King find his voice.
The production stands or falls on the central relationship between Bertie and Logue, and here it is beautifully played. Duncan Wilkins is very strong as Bertie, painfully aware of his stammer, frightened, yet haughty and aloof at the beginning of the relationship- as a Royal he has different expectations to most people. Alan Cox provides the perfect foil as Logue, refusing to pander to the prince who becomes King, and his excellent comic timing provides many light moments, the scenes between the two leave you wanting more! As Bertie approaches his speech about the onset of the War, the performances become very moving. Their wives are also excellent, Sarah Lambie as Elizabeth exuding etiquette as well as love, and Lucy Robinson perfect as down-to-earth Myrtle Logue. When David, the Prince of Wales, (a pitch-perfect performance by Perri Snowden), abdicates, the play makes you realise that there is more than one King’s speech. Alison Reid’s fluid direction keeps the ensemble on pace but allows space for the play to lean into those poignant moments.
Set designer Sorcha Corcoran, as usual, does wonders with so little that gives so much, aided by Pip Thurlow’s highly effective lighting and sound design that moves the play effortlessly between locations. It’s a fascinating play that brings out the human as well as the history and sets the standard high for this summer’s season!
Until Saturday 15th July