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Whether or not you caught the award-winning film starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, Adrian Noble’s production of David Seidler’s script (which was initially written as a stage play) is a treat.

Witty and humane, simply staged against an outsize rotating frame and with projected period footage, it makes clear the political background which brought King George VI (Bertie to his family) to the throne as his bullying elder brother, Edward VIII, fell increasingly under the influence of both Fascism and the American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.

But the main focus is on the sometimes testy relationship between the future monarch and his unconventional Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue, who came to England to further his career as an actor (he never hacked it) but earned a living using the skills he’d honed with stuttering, shell-shocked war veterans back in Perth.

It’s impossible not to feel for Charles Edwards’ excellent Bertie as he battles with the agonising stammer which made addressing the nation an embarrassing ordeal not only for him but also for those waiting to hear what he was struggling to say.

As Logue, Jonathan Hyde’s relaxed firmness makes a stark contrast with the ingrained formality of his patient, as does the warmth of his homesick wife (Charlotte Randle) with the haughtiness of Emma Fielding’s Elizabeth – supportive, dutiful, and determined to help her royal husband in a role he never thought would be his.

Wyndhams, Charing Cross Road WC2H 0DA
Tube: Leicester Square
Currently booking to July 21
£17.50- £52.50 
Delfontmackintosh.co.uk

- Louise Kingsley


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The King's Speech - theatre review
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