'The Madness of George III' ★★★½

In their youth, British royals can deliver fairy-tale weddings. History shows that the later years are often more problematic. As one of playwright Alan Bennett's characters wryly observes in "The Madness of George III," currently in a stellar Chicago Shakespeare production from director Penny Metropulos, "Who could flourish on such a daily diet of compliance?" Who indeed? Bennett's shrewd 1991 play doesn't just lift the veil on royal life in the late 18th century, it also probes the deeper notion of whether it's any good for anyone to be bowed to on a daily basis. This hugely invigorating affair benefits from a true, old-fashioned star performance from Harry Groener. A live wire of spontaneity and unpredictability, Groener makes George at once troubled, childish and hugely empathetic, if only by comparison to the clutch of self-serving courtiers, politicians and physicians. -CHRIS JONES Through June 12 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier; $44-$75 at 312-595-5600 and chicagoshakes.com Read the full review
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