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

George III: Mad or catalyst?
Lewes Little Theatre
When? 7.45. Runs till
How Much? £7 evening £5 matinee + membership
(£5 at least 48 hrs before performance)

Lewes Theatre
(t) 01273 474826