NICK Sample's performance in The Madness of George III represents a high water mark for both Altrincham Garrick but for amateur theatre in general.
We share ever second of the monarch's mental and physical torment as he embarks on a heart breaking battle against an illness that mystifies both the medics, his family and his courtiers. But he's also a master of the put down and Sample is equally accomplished when it comes to putting across the lighter elements of Alan Bennett's sublime script.
I also like the way this superb play humanises the royals an there are some touching, tender scenes to enjoy between King George and Queen Charlotte, so well played by Sarat Broughton. They come across as, shock horror, real people, warts and all.
Don't be fooled into thinking this is a dry and highbrow piece of theatre. There are plenty of laughs to be had at the expense of the establishment and the king's outbursts of irreverence. The most difficult scenes involve a medical treatment that verges on sadism, scenes that, even after watching the film version starring the mighty Nigel Hawthorne, make my stomach turn over.
Director Celia Bonner has a major triumph on here hands here. Steven Finney impresses yet again and I really liked Peter Brassington as the scheming stuffed shirt, George, Prince of Wales. The ever watchable Martin Oldfield is perfect in the role of Dr Francis Willis.
It would be a travesty if The Madness of George III doesn't play to packed houses and anyone who refuses to go should be sent to the Tower.
* Until April 23. The box office is on 0161 928 1677. Star rating - *****