The Madness of George III

April 13

June 12, 2011

in CST's Courtyard Theater

by Alan Bennett
directed by Penny Metropulos

Critical Acclaim

“Highly Recommended! Groener commands stage as 'George III' for the ages. A transcendent, impeccably cast production under the direction of Penny Metropulos. And it is where Harry Groener is giving one of those towering performances that suggests a lifetime of work has coalesced into a single grand portrayal—one that reveals years of accrued technique and profound life experience. Groener should not be missed. More crucially, he deserves to lead this production to Broadway. This is no costume drama; it is a living, breathing, vibrant commentary on human relationships and social interplay. Bravo, "King George."”

     A stellar production from director Penny Metropulos! This Chicago Shakespeare production, a hugely invigorating and entertaining affair, benefits greatly from a true, old-fashioned star performance from Harry Groener in the leading role. Groener, a live wire of spectacular spontaneity and unpredictability...has the audience smiling along with his candid comments on kids and the queen. And then this brilliant actor suddenly switches, crying his pain over the loss of his young son. Your laugh comes halfway up your throat and gets stuck. Metropulos paces this piece masterfully and has cast it superbly, and she can mostly just let her actors run with this rich Bennett script.

“The nation’s leader is weak and the opposition whittles away his legislative majority vote-by-vote. There’s talk of radical reform, spend-thrift economics and vanishing surpluses as politics and health care clash. No, it’s not America in 2011, it’s England in 1793. Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III remains both pertinent and vastly entertaining precisely because of its rather-modern take on old history. Go see this totally fabulous new production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (through June 12), and you’ll see why. Broadway veteran Harry Groener is masterful as King George III!”

“Harry Groener rules as the English monarch in a handsome Chicago Shakes production. Bennett offers an outstanding character study in George, and Groener tackles it masterfully. A three-time Tony nominee for his work in Broadway musicals, Groener brings a musicality to the rhythms of George’s desperate, babbling descent and eventual reemergence. It sings.”

“If you plan on seeing a play in Chicago this year, this is the one you must see. King George, brilliantly played by Harry Groener, is a successful man in his prime. Although Alan Bennett's play was written in 1991, the commentary of various characters on government and finances are pertinent today. Against the neutral, but stately Georgian palace set, the costumes—jewels, gowns, frock coats, and wigs are gorgeous. This is an awesome play.”

“ A production like this illuminates [Chicago Shakespeare's] trademark as creating some of the most vibrant theatre in the world...An all-star cast, the most convincing and inspiring performance belonging to Harry Groener...leaving this critic in a state of awe. Director Penny Metropulos has found beauty in a man’s madness, pumping every inch of Chicago Shakespeare's Courtyard Theater with an electric force that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats. ”

“Pure delight! The title character is one that takes great energy and a great number of lines to handle with several personality types, as he has his ups and downs—Harry Groener, making his first appearance on the CST stage, nails it, from his first appearance on the stage to the very end! He handles each mood swing with the right touch and one would have to call him a master of his character interpretation. Seeing him develop George III for the 2 hours and 45 minutes of this production is a treat for an audience and worth the price of the ticket. ”

“This is one play that should be seen by everyone interested in the best that Chicago theater has to offer. Penny Metropulos’s direction creates such full characterization in many of the roles that the audience is drawn into the story. It's easy to become so immersed in what’s unfolding before your eyes that you forget you’re watching a play. Harry Groener is superb as King George III. A moving story, great acting and directing, and a beautiful set all combine in The Madness of George III to create a play that you’ll want to make every effort to attend.”

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