Madness in our English history

The Madness of George III is being performed at Chichester Festival Theatre from November 14-19. Photograph of (left to right) Clive Francis and David Haig
The Madness of George III is being performed at Chichester Festival Theatre from November 14-19. Photograph of (left to right) Clive Francis and David Haig
Grimm's Fairy Tales for Young and Old. Hal Darling as The Wolf, Emily Wells as Little Red Riding Hood. Photo by Paul Inskip

REVIEW: Grimm’s Tales For Young and Old by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre

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For many productions, arriving at Chichester Festival Theatre means creating a whole new set of stage directions. With a theatre that has the audience on three sides, it’s a tricky business of getting all the right angles for everyone to see.

Christopher Luscombe felt exactly the same, with the large cast of 24 actors rehearsing like mad to create the right set up, all for Chichester’s run.

Having directed national tours of Spamalot, The History Boys, and The Rocky Horror Show, the director has now turned his attention to the 1991 Alan Bennett play, The Madness Of George III.

He says: ‘I think it’s such a fascinating chapter in English history, and you don’t often get to do plays in that period. To do something in the 18th century is really unusual.

‘I find the history side of it fascinating, and it’s a brilliant cast. It’s the biggest I’ve ever worked with, and David Haig is such a huge character in it.’

The play focuses on King George III, played by Olivier Award winning actor David Haig. It charts his battle with mental illness, and how the court dealt with it.

With the production currently on tour, and with plans for it to go into the West End in early 2012, Christopher couldn’t be happier.

He adds: ‘I’m thrilled with the reception. It’s just something about it which is very funny and moving. I think the combination of the two is unusual, and Alan Bennett often does dark plays, but this is a real mix.

‘We love the play and all get on really well. I always think there’s stuff to work on but that’s normal.’

Christopher has directed countless shows in the past, and has even been nominated for his own Olivier Award for Fascinating Aida: One Last Flutter.

‘I’m very proud,’ he explains, ‘and I’m very lucky. It’s always nice to get nominated or win awards, but I get a real variety of work, from Alan Bennett’s plays to big musicals. It’s great.’

Other well-known actors included in the production are Clive Francis, Madhav Sharma, and Beatie Edney.

Tickets cost £12 to £30 from Chichester Festival Theatre on (1243) 781312 or go to cft.org.uk.