The Crown: Part Twelve
By Michael Moriarty
Onto the screen springs: 1964!!
The worst spring of my life!
All, experienced in England.
The episode, the first of this, so far, final series, is entitled Olding.
We North Americans, or few of us, have no real idea of what “Olding” might be referring to!
Not even Wikipedia has a notion.
To Wikipedia, Olding is some form of misspelling.
Olivia Colman now plays the Queen of England and her first appearance is quite formidably written and perfectly performed.
Elizabeth The Mildly Bitter Realist.
Olding, a suddenly exposed, Soviet neologism, is Russia’s KGB code for Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
It will eventually appear, I assume, in Wikipedia’s dictionary.
Furthermore, about this episode, great acting, like that of Helen Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, can be quite frightening at times!
The previous Margaret, performed by Vanessa Kirby, was splendid in her rage and self-pity, but Ms. Carter’s Margaret upon her first appearance?!
This is a voice and appearance of truly intimidating authority!
The great British stage director, by whom I was directed at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Sir Tyrone Guthrie himself? He eternally cautioned all actors and actresses, “No self-pity!”
In short, make any other acting choice but self-pity!
The great knight’s and, ultimately, great lord’s order seems to be Ms. Carter’s first of the Ten Commandments.
“Tough-as-nails” is an understated description of what Ms. Carter’s self-image is here and what some acting teachers call “the through-line of a role”.
The role of Margaret, Queen Elizabeth’s sister, springs alive with, as I say, a terrifying alertness!
Now we come to the Queen’s first official meeting with Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
After the formalities, for which the PM was lectured, he ferociously launches into his contemptuous opening statement.
The Queen calmly carries on the conversation with questions.
“Will you,” in light of the financial situation, “devalue the currency?”
For Wilson the Labor Party cannot be seen approving of devaluation.
Things proceed in an increasingly personal direction.
“Did you,” asks the Queen, “ever imagine being Prime Minister?”
“How could you have done? Mr. Gaitskell was such a young man”
“No one could possibly have foreseen his death.”
“Still, we make of our destiny what we can!”
Cut to another Royal dinner party.
At the table, the possibility of PM Wilson being a Russian spy is brought up.
The Queen is left rather nonplussed.
Also at the table, Queen Mary lectures her daughter Margaret about her dark obsessions with her husband, now Lord Snowden; he who is still Tony Armstrong-Jones.
The events of Spring, 1964, which I mentioned so painfully at the top of this article?!
I returned to London from a life-changing and virtually spiritual renaissance in Florence. speaking and questioning many about their own belief or disbelief in God?!
I was lied to and cajoled into being taken to a nightmare called The Priory.
It was there that the great baritone, Paul Robson, was given 50 electro-shock treatments from which he never recovered!
I, thank God, after blithely signing a permission slip for any medical decisions the staff might make about me?
I received 10 electro-shock treatments!
Then sent home to Detroit!
A basket case.
However, a blessing in disguise!
After such charges of manic-depressive insanity, a diagnosis which obliged them to electro-shock me till I indeed became radically depressed?!
I was branded medically unfit for military service.
I escaped being drafted into the Vietnam War and most certainly killed by a Vietcong bullet I would have most certainly thrown myself in the way of.
I feel utterly incapable of killing another human being, even for the motive of self-defense.
Saved my life.
The Priory’s diagnosis rendered me a basket case for almost ten years!
The hell of British good intentions and psycho-babble was transformed by me….eventually… after 15 years… into the profoundly important realities of sheer survival and ultimately, the spiritual renaissance in which I joyously live now!
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.