THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III
FUN IN THE COURT OF MAD KING GEORGE
Cambridge Evening News 25th October 1995
A king is entitled to be mad, but it does not pay when surrounded by physicians and doctors from the 18th century. Malcolm Underwood plays the vomiting, stuttering and generally raving and ranting King George III, surrounded by the acquiescent buffoons of the royal household.
Incompetent doctors try to purge him of his "sickness" using torturous means such as "blistering" his body, consequently tormenting him further. Tall and slim Guy Holmes turned in a facially expressive and humorous performance as the "fat" Prince of Wales - hence the padded stomach - greedy for his father's throne. His brother, the Duke of York (Derek Matravers), though with a lesser role, uttered some witty quips, too.
But it was Malcolm Underwood's performance that stole the show, with huge applause at the end, which was well deserved. Shaking uncontrollably and vomiting into a spittoon takes some theatrical guts. The more lowly but not so subservient cockney pages also provided a few titters as they tended to the unwell and demanding king as he spouted obscenities and generally misbehaved.
The 25 scene changes were blended together smoothly. The Bawds production lasted three hours with a 20 minute break for air, the stifling heat of the theatre made bearable only by the fluttering of pamphlets used as fans. The cast in their ornate costumes and wigs, must have suffered, too.
click here for production photographs
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