ENGLAND     1995
MUSIC:                       HANDEL, adapted by George Fenton
CAST:                         Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm, Anthony Calf, Amanda Donohoe, Rupert Graves, Geoffrey Palmer, Julian Wadham, John Wood, Rupert Everett
WRITTEN BY:            Alan Bennett's play The Madness of King George III
ONE WORD:              A total piece of excellence.

It's sad that Americans do not have the fascination or history for their early leaders, as the Europeans and other countries do for their own past kings and queens. Maybe the American founding fathers were vain and had nothing to offer individually, but collectively, they were capable of putting together what many other aristocrats never even considered.

The Madness of King George, is the story of King George III of England during some very pressing times, like the breaking away of the American colony. And the king is suffering from a few delusions and illnesses here and there which are making him feel sick, and act improperly at the oddest of times, specially in stressful situations. But supported by his queen and his elder son, who has ulterior motives, he decides to forego the court jesters, errrr, the medicine men, in order to undertake a radical form of treatment. And, the healing is specially tough for a man who has been spoiled by the public and all the pomp and circumstance that he has lived with all his life. It requires a lot of solitude and special meals.

Eventually the king recovers and he returns to London to face those who were trying so hard to change the monarchy, and his son. He returns to power, and governs for another long period.

What is extraordinary in this whole affair, is the acting, specially between the three leading actors. A fascinating interplay that is so well done, that it should leave anyone that appreciates great acting fascinated by such a consistent, and well thought out characterization. And if this is not all Nigel Hawthorne, then it is Alan Bennett, who wrote some outstanding exchanges, be they between the king and his opponents, or the ingénues that are around the court. Ian Holm, as the doctor who is pioneering new treatment methods, and stays away from the old medicinal idiots and their evaluation of the wrong symptoms time and again. Helen Mirren stands out as the Faithfull queen who stands by her king, even when it all seems lost. She is being deceived, but manages to get away and learn that his treatment is indeed working. And in between the bickering and the fighting are the lords and counts who have nothing better to do but argue all day long, perhaps for the favors that will keep them being involved in the courts.

A very well directed play, by a theatre man (of course), who obviously knows how to mix and match foregrounds and backgrounds, and achieve a measure of effect on this magnificent work, which really adds to the production. It is really hard to find fault in this piece of work. Magnificent all around.

Nigel Hawthorne was worthy of his nomination and might have won, had he not been running against a Hollywood heavy and favorite. Superb material. Well directed and written, and better performed, if that is possible.





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