Review: The Madness of George III, Nottingham Playhouse

I like almost everything about The Madness of George III at Nottingham Playhouse Theatre apart from the main performance…

“I am not going out of my mind, my mind is going out of me”

Mark Gatiss has been getting rave reviews for his performance in The Madness of George III at Nottingham Playhouse but for me, there was just a little bit too much of
for my liking. There’s lots to love in Adam Penfold’s production, particularly in key supporting roles like Adrian Scarborough’s Dr Willis and Debra Gillett’s Queen Charlotte, and some of the smaller parts like Nadia Albina’s Fitzroy and Jack Holden’s Greville.

And I enjoyed that Penfold cast several of the ostensibly male parts with women, allowing the likes of Louise Jameson and Stephanie Jacob. Throw in a lusciously opulent design from Robert Jones and strikingly dramatic lighting from Richard Howell, and it’s a real theatrical treat, a real statement of intent from this nicely ambitious artistic director. 

If you’re going to pick holes, as I inevitably find myself doing, it’s that the play’s portrayal of mental health issues – and society’s reaction to them –  feel a little out of kilter with the contemporary conversation. That’s not unexpected considering Alan Bennett wrote it, nearly 30 years ago at that, but veering towards the Glen of it all raises a question. And the play’s desire for neatness feels just a touch old-fashioned but that’s not to deny how good work is going on here as well.  

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Manuel Harlan
The Madness of George III is booking at the Nottingham Playhouse until 24th November

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