The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
October 3, 4, 5 & 6, 2001.
The Madness of George lll
by Alan Bennett
David Creedon – George lll
Joan Braddock – Queen Charlotte
John Garland – Prince of Wales
John Robinson – Fitzroy
Simon Birks – Greville
Kevin Isaac – Braun
Judith Berrill – Papandiek
Diane Robinson – Lady Pembroke
Joan Bearman – Maid
Tony Brownings – Pitt
Ray Hopper – Thurlow
Sid Jones – Dundas
John Barham – Fox
Simon Druce – Sheridan
Hugh Hemmings – Baker
David Bickers – Warren
Malcolm Wood – Pepys
David Goodger – Willis
Claire Wiggins – Margaret Nicholson
Ralph Dawes – Boothby
Eric Seymour – Ramsden
Stuart Isaac – Footman
David Pierce – Dr Willis’s Assistant
Eric Seymour – Dr Willis’s Assistant
Stuart Isaac – Dr Willis’s Assistant
Claire Wiggins – Dr MacAlpine
Stage Manager – David Comber
Stage Manager – Marc Lewis
ASM – Jean Porter
Lighting – Mike Medway
Sound – Simon Snelling
Set Building – David Comber
Set Building – David Collis
Set Building – Brian Box
Set Building – Mike Davy
Set Building – Marc Lewis
Set Painting – Sheila Neesham
Set Painting – Susanna Chaplin
Properties – Sue Whittaker
Properties – Margaret Davy
Wardrobe – Sheila Neesham
Wardrobe – Judith Berrill
Press & Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Press & Publicity – Rosemary Brown
Poster & Programme Design – Judith Berrill
Front of House Co-ordinator – Valerie Bray
Programme Note #1: The Madness of George lll
BR wrote: “When I first directed a production for Wick Theatre Company, exactly ten years ago, the play was Habeas Corpus, by a certain Alan Bennett. It’s a generous play [much more so than Joe Orton material which it echoes] and is packed with music-hall gags and earthy humour of the seaside postcard. At its heart is a sharp feeling of human frailty. In life there is death, it seems to say, but laughter serves to hold our fears at bay. The fact that two of the play’s main comic characters are doctors, out of their depth in the tide of mortality, ties all this together rather nicely.
So here we are, at the Barn, ten years later, with a Bennett play that on the face of it is totally different, but in essence is very similar – the generosity, the humour, the keen sense of mortality and the ways the resourceful human spirit copes with it. The reappearance of ‘comedy doctors’ is no mere coincidence either!
The challenges of producing George would make most theatre companies turn tail. Its scale is impossible for any unsubsidised professional group, because of the economics. Amateur groups don’t have to pay wages, but they still need to have real strength in depth, in their acting resources and their technical teams. It is a tribute to Wick Theatre Company that they have built up their membership, the skills and the sheer ambition to take on challenges of this type.
A particular question in the staging of George is how to present almost 40 scenes, some them very short, as smoothly as possible. In fact, the jumps time and place, and the number of them, are not unlike the plays of Shakespeare. Our approach has therefore been to use the same free-flowing style that we have developed for Shakespeare productions at the Barn – where action unfolds quickly on a single set, and where no fittings, furniture or props appear unless they are directly used in the action.
I hope you enjoy this production and the efforts of all those involved in making it happen. A special welcome is due to Simon Birks, Malcolm Wood, Sid Jones, Eric Seymour and David Pierce, for whom this is their first production for Wick.”
Publicity #1: The Madness of George lll
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: September 27 2001 issue – page 5
Text Header: “You’d be raving mad to miss this show!”
ALAN Bennett’s The Madness of George lll is the latest production of the Wick Theatre Company. The play is Wick Theatre Company’s entry for the Brighton and Hove Arts Council’s 2001 Drama Festival. The Madness of the George lll [sic] was inspired by historic events and later turned into a film starring Sir Nigel Hawthorne. King George was an eccentric character at the best of times, but when he suddenly develops a mystery illness, everyone assumes he has gone insane.
The Prince of Wales and his political friends leave the poor monarch to the mercies of various doctors, whose treatment do little to help the situation. But King George does make a recovery in time to restore some order at his court.
With director Bob Ryder in charge, and a cast of experienced Barn regulars and talented newcomers, this promises to be one production that you’d be mad to miss. King George will be played by David Creedon, Queen Charlotte by Joan Braddock, Lady Pembroke by Diane Robinson, the Prince of Wales by John Garland, Prime Minister Pitt by Tony Brownings and Lord Chancellor Thurlow by Ray Hopper. The Opposition MPs include John Barham as Fox and Simon Druce as Sheridan. The bungling medics feature Hugh Hemmings as Dr Baker and David Goodger as Dr Willis.
The Madness of George lll will be performed at the Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre, from October 3 to 6, at 7.45pm. Tickets cost £5 and £6 from the box office on 01273 597094. Special prices are available for schools and group bookings.
Review #1: The Madness of George lll
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: October 11 2001 issue – page 22
Reviewer: Frank Horsley
Text Header: “Love a duck! Madness reigned supreme at Barn”
THE Sun, which last week reported the Queen had a rubber duck in her bath, would doubtless have made hay in the days of George lll. Those crazy royals and their wacky antics will always make brilliant copy – and even better play scripts, as proved by Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George lll.
Wick Theatre Company could hardly have chosen more shrewdly in entering this piece in Brighton and Hove Arts Council’s 2001 drama festival. And I doubt if few groups could have improved on the performance they gave, under Bob Ryder’s direction, at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, last Wednesday. Barring one or two disregardable opening-night hitches, a large cast held us rapt for well over two hours and through almost 40 scene against a satisfying spartan set.
For those familiar with the necessarily abridged film version starring Nigel Hawthorne, the play was both an ear and eye-opener in terms of the scale of the lead rôle, magnificently filled by David Creedon. Best, barely adequate tribute I can pay to his tragi-comic fall into dementia is that he often looked like a particularly mad-looking chemistry teacher I used to have. Joan Braddock stamped her own feisty mark on the Helen Mirren film part of Queen Charlotte, AKA “Mrs King”, and John Garland was wonderfully indolent and louche as the Prince of Wales, who hoped to rise to power through his father’s indisposition.
The struggle between the politicians, trying either to hang on like grim death or snatch the ascendancy during the king’s descent into blathering incapability, was strongly depicted. Rivals Tony Brownings [Pitt] and John Barham [Fox] both gave measured portrayals while Ray Hopper was suitably oleaginous as the Lord Chancellor Thurlow. Newcomer Sid Jones [Dundas] and Simon Druce [Sheridan] lent sound support.
Just as compelling were the various modi operandi and professional cluck-clucking of the doctors competing to restore George to health. Again, the interaction of David Goodger [Willis], Hugh Hemmings [Baker], David Bickers [Warren] and Malcolm Wood [Pepys] was almost a play within a play. No one had to work harder than George’s long suffering attendants and this was reflected in the steadfastness of John Robinson [Fitzroy], Simon Birks [Granville], Kevin Isaacs [Braun] and Judith Berrill [Papandiek]. Diane Robinson, as Lady Pembroke, also maintained stately composure while all around her was falling apart. Completing what should be a festival award-winning cast were Joan Bearman, Claire Wiggins, Ralph Dawes and Stuart Isaac and other newcomers Eric Seymour and David Pierce.
Review #2: The Madness of George lll
Publication: Wick Newsletter
Publication Data: November 2001
Reviewer: Margaret Ockenden
I read this play about four weeks before seeing the Wick’s performance and could not see how it could be presented with any truth or honesty on the Barn stage. Could I believe in a theatrical representation of King George and his court? The scenes of madness would seem to be alienating to an audience, disturbing and uncomfortable.
I saw the play tonight and was enthralled. George was real, all right, and his madness sad and demanding of understanding.
The play is well crafted and written, but the vision and ability to make this meaningful to an audience belongs solely to the director. The play is about madness, specifically a King’s and the politicians, doctors and family response to the situation. It works on many levels. How did director Bob Ryder make the play accessible to an audience?
Firstly there was a well designed and built set. The blocks convinced me they were made of stone, and the different levels and arches permitted lighting to add perspective and made creditable bedroom scenes – one of the few times I have been convinced that the protagonists would have actually slept there [derisive laughter from David and Joan, no doubt, who had to act in it.] The lighting and sound enhanced the action and was especially effective in the Parliamentary scenes. The costumes were superb, totally convincing in their detail.
Having been given such a good start, one hopes the cast can live up to it! The word ‘ensemble’ comes to mind, in which every actor understands the contributions they are making to the play, and does that, no more, no less. This cast did that. It seems churlish to pick out performances, but a review is expected to do this and if you are not mentioned rest assured you did it well.
I have to mention David Creedon. His madness is not attractive, but we sympathise because we knew the real George. Goodness me, he even looked like George lll. His appearance in the last scene was tear-jerking – so beautifully dressed and so like the king everyone expected and wanted. And what about Lady Pembroke? A cobra waiting for the right opportunity to strike – it was chilling. And what about Thurlow? We see them today – nice people, but they need to be on the right side. I could go on -Pitt, whose life is politics, Fitzroy who knows what’s what. I liked John Garland’s portrayal of the Prince, another actor who looked disturbingly like the character. I really need to rave about everyone, but it would take too much room. I can only say, well done to everyone.
The pace and change of mood, the seamless way in which a complex story was told, relies very much on the ensemble playing mentioned earlier. I realise now that ensemble does not only refer to the cast, but to the set designer, workshop team, lighting team, wardrobe team, props and stage mangers, and so on. Such production is a fusion of all these elements, resulting in a satisfying and enjoyable evening.
A production of which Wick can be proud.