The Madness of George III by Alan Bennett
Bath Theatre Royal, Apollo Theatre and UK tour
Director Christopher Luscombe, Lighting Oliver Fenwick
Luscombe's production and Janet Bird's design are infused with Georgian elegance and refinement, but the evening's triumph is to show the fragility of this china world, which has a bull at its centre
Against Janet Bird’s simple but effective set of blond wood frames and free-standing doors Bennett’s affectionate, satirical drama plays out with clarity.
Janet Bird’s set design is remarkable in its simultaneous understated simplicity – plain lines and hushed tones – and ingeniously manifold use: an energetic succession of frame-covered walls, doors and panelled windows, complemented by a few pieces of furniture, transforms the otherwise bare stage into a labyrinthine palace. Additionally, the sets often serve as an on-stage representation of the king’s mental deterioration; in a notable episode, the stage is dotted with doors incessantly opened and closed by a cast in pursuit of George, making for a powerful evocation of the King getting increasingly lost in the corridors of his own distraught mind.