Tuesday, May 8, 2012

4/23 - The King's Speech

After spending the afternoon at the National Gallery in London looking at some famous paintings like Van Gogh's Sunflowers, I joined back up with the whole group to see The King's Speech.  I was not aware that the award winning movie was actually based on a play.  The premise of the show is the story of George VI's rise to the English crown.  Bertie as his family called him was the second son of King George V.  The thing is that he had developed a stammer at a young age.  This was tragic for a royal due to the number of public speeches that they were required to give.  This was right after the invention of the radio which increased the number of public speeches than what it was previously.  Bertie finds help in the form of Lionel Logue who uses a variety of odd methods of helping Bertie fix his stammer.  Tensions rise when the king dies, and Bertie's brother Edward is crowned king.  Edward is in a tight spot due to his love for an American woman who is technically not finished getting a divorce.  However, this is not all.  This american woman apparently has connections with Hitler which just makes matters worse.  Edward does not see how he has to do what the people expect him to.  He is under the impression that he is the King and therefore, he can do whatever makes him happy.  His stubbornness leads him no choice but to abdicate from the throne.  This means that Bertie will be crowned king.  Logue is right there to help his friend out when disaster strikes.  Bertie learns that Logue does not have a doctor's license like he thought he did.  He is furious that he has been "treated" by a mere man with no credentials.  There is a yelling match which ends with Logue tricking Bertie in screaming that he has a voice of his own.  This was the whole point that Logue was trying to get Bertie to understand.  Bertie realizes this and decides to keep Logue as a doctor and as a friend.  Bertie is then crowned as King George VI.  The play ends with perhaps one of the most famous speeches of English history.  It is the announcement that England is at war with Germany.  Bertie gives the speech, not perfectly, but with such emotion that the subtle pauses do not matter.  Then the curtain falls.  

This was an absolutely amazing performance!  I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat for most of the performance.  Charles Edwards who played Bertie did a fantastic job of making the stammer realistic.  I felt like I was in the room with the actors full of pity for Bertie.  He has his heart set so much in the right direction, but doesn't have any faith in his own voice.  It is through Logue's assistance that he is finally able to overcome the stammer and see his own ability to rule.  The final speech was so touching.  You could hear the difficulty that was still there; however, the emotion was overwhelming.  I had goosebumps.  The actors deserved the standing ovation that they received.  It was a great way to end a day in London.  

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