‘The King’s Speech’ play tours England, earns positive reviews


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‘The King’s Speech’ is back -- only this time, it’s a stage play touring Britain in preparation for a possible West End engagement and maybe even a Broadway transfer.

Last year’s Academy Award winner for best picture actually began its life as an unproduced stage drama that playwright David Seidler later transformed into a screenplay. (Strangely, he won an original screenplay Oscar last year, as opposed to an adapted screenplay award.)


Now Seidler has turned it back into a play, which opened earlier this month in Guildford, England, and is touring the country. No dates have been announced for London’s West End but theater pundits say a transfer is all but inevitable.

Charles Edwards plays George VI, the role for which Colin Firth won an Oscar. Jonathan Hyde plays Lionel Logue, the Australian speech therapist who helps the new king to overcome his stammer and played by Geoffrey Rush in the film.

The play is directed by Adrian Noble, the former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and current head of the annual Shakespeare Festival at the Old Globe in San Diego.

The touring production has garnered positive reviews on its tour. Michael Billington of the Guardian described it as ‘perfectly enjoyable ... even if the result often seems like a screenplay, the stage version allows Seidler more room to explore the story’s political background.’

Charles Spencer of the Telegraph wrote that ‘Noble directs a production that is elegant, lucid and witty, with a revolving stage design to conjure different locations, as well as highly effective use of period film footage.’ Both critics also praised the cast for embodying their historical characters. Mark Shenton of the The Stage was somewhat less impressed, writing that the ‘result is an efficient comfort-blanket of a play that, like the endless jukebox musicals that populate the West End, gives you what you already know you will enjoy.’

There has been chatter about a possible Broadway transfer for the play, but nothing official has been announced. No doubt it could be a hot theater property for Harvey Weinstein, who distributed the movie in the U.S. and played no small role in its Oscar victories.



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-- David Ng