The King’s Roads are revealed to Jonathan Strange this week, leading to some extraordinary sequences as Edward Petherbridge’s mad King George III is transported into the wilds through a mirror, and Strange himself manages to travel to another dimension (as well as Shoreditch). The effects for Strange’s journey in particular are very well done – his appearance before someone who has been duped into believing they are paying for his favours would undoubtedly scare someone in real life!
Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvel continue to reveal further layers in their characters through their performance as the two magicians grow increasingly estranged. Norrell is becoming embittered – and not particularly forthcoming on the magic front either – while Strange’s frustrations are building.
The relationships between the two magicians and those around them are as fascinating as that between the pair: Strange’s realisation of how much being a magician has affected his marriage adds to the character, and we’re forcibly reminded that this was simply a career he fell into (as far as he was concerned, anyway) and his wife would have been happy with him in some other gainful employ. Those around Norrell have their own agendas – the scene between John Hefferman and Vincent Franklin was chilling as it showed the steel beneath the foppery.
And then there’s Lady Pole and Stephen, both of whom are caught in the Gentleman’s web, and forced to attempt murder – or in one case, regicide. Ariyon Bakare has consistently been strong as the servant, and the final scene with Marc Warren is one of his best yet.
Verdict: This entrancing and engrossing tale maintains its power. 8/10