Theatre - The Madness
of George III
Like most enduring urban myths, the one about the titling
of the 1994 movie The Madness of King George seems to be untrue.
The film is an adaptation of Alan Bennett’s play The
Madness of George III. It is said that the movie originally
had the same title, but that test audiences in the USA thought
that the numerals at the end referred to the fact it was a
sequel, and wondered why they hadn’t seen the first
two films. In fact the new title was a suggestion of the lead
actor in both the play and the film, Nigel Hawthorne, who
won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in the film, one of
four it received in 1995.
Before accepting the job of adapting his play for the screen
Bennett insisted that Hawthorne, little known to Hollywood
producers, should be given the lead role in the movie. He
put in a marvellous performance in a demanding role as a sympathetic
king battling against madness and the plotting and excesses
of his son, later to rule in his place as Prince Regent. “My
work is about embarrassment," says Bennett, of his play.
"George III, for one, is nervous and shy, like many royals.
His bluntness and heartiness proceed from social unease. But
his role is to present himself as King. When madness sets
in, he drops this facade; he isn't embarrassed anymore.”
A case of Emperor’s new clothes? We hope it isn’t
madness for the local amateur dramatics society to bite of
such a demanding choice as their latest offering. DL