Eight Songs for a Mad King

Kelvin-Thomas-in-Eight-Songs200 photo Clive Barda

Peter Maxwell Davies

More than 20 years before the film and play The Madness of George III caught the public’s imagination, Peter Maxwell Davies (Max) immortalised the monarch’s descent into dementia and delusion in Eight Songs for a Mad King. In our 25th anniversary year we couldn’t resist staging a new production and taking the opportunity to celebrate the music of Max, a figure who played such a pivotal role in the creation of the company.

The work draws on actual quotations of the King and on the records of those at court, including stories of the King singing extracts of The Messiah, speaking gibberish very quickly and teaching his pet birds to sing.  It's an exploration of the King's mental state and an exploration of the afflication of madness.

Eight Songs for a Mad King is frequently referred to as ‘iconic’ and quite rightly so. 35 years may have passed since it was written but it has lost none of its power, vitality or punch. Disturbing, poignant and at times desperately funny it continues to push both performers and audiences to their emotional limits.

In a nutshell, it’s a masterpiece.

Sung in English

Production Running Time: 35mins

Performance Running Times:  
1hr 30mins including interval when performed with Ping 
2hrs including interval when performed with The Killing Flower

Director Michael McCarthy will give a pre-show talk at all venues an hour before the performance begins

Tour Dates

Tuesday 26 March

Eight Songs for a Mad King & Ping

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff

Wednesday 17 April

Eight Songs for a Mad King & Ping

Arts Centre, Aberystwyth

Thursday 18 April

Eight Songs for a Mad King & Ping

Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold

Tuesday 16 July

Eight Songs & The Killing Flower

Opera House, Buxton

Creative Team

Music: Peter Maxwell Davies
Words: Randolph Slow and George III              

King: Kelvin Thomas


Music Theatre Wales, Pascoe House, 54 Bute Street, Cardiff, CF10 5AF, UK | Company No. 02815692 | Charity No. 1039757