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Review

King Charles III by Mike Bartlett

Wild Duck Theatre

Kitson Hall - 08 June 2019

King Charles III by Mike Bartlett

When Mike Bartlett’s Modern Shakespearean history opened in 2014 is was nominated for every award going on both sides of the Atlantic and won the Critic’s Circle and South Bank Sky Arts Best New Play Awards. It was subsequently presented as a radio play on BBC Radio 3 in 2015 and the ninety-minute TV version was screened by BBC2 in 2017. These dates are important. The play has only relatively recently been released for general performance and I fear it is past its sell by date already. It was written pre-Brexit, pre-Trump and, probably most importantly pre-Meaghan Markle as a response to the News International phone hacking scandal.

The play is set in the near-future and imagines the political fallout and social unrest likely after the death of HM the Queen when the new King Charles refuses to play the Government’s political game. Needless to say the wider issues that the play tackles are mirrored in the family scenario of the royal household. As well as echoes of several Shakespearean devices to complement the blank verse, King Charles III has a very impressive moment as King Charles II. The play is clever and very ambitious. It is also very long and was made longer by the addition of a guest appearance by a local choir at the beginning of the piece and the many, lengthy scene changes throughout the play.

The production at Kitson Hall is a joint venture between Wild Duck and Barnes Community Players. Like the Curates egg it is “good in parts”. Daniel Wain is a totally believable King Charles, giving us a realistic portrayal of the real man without falling into caricature. Likewise, Richard Scott’s Harry is a delight. The stage came alive every time either of these actors inhabited it. Director Susan Conte has done a fine job in finding a “royal family” with more than a passing resemblance to their real counterparts who can also deliver blank verse and have decent comic timing. The supporting artistes of various politicians, bishops and commoners battle with varying degrees of success with the verse and their characters. Emily O’Mahony’s Prime Minister and Chris Mounsey’s Leader of the Opposition have a particularly difficult time here as they are portraying fictional characters in a world inhabited by household names and faces. They both manage admirably and their individual scenes with King Charles are some of the best in the play.For The full Review: https://markaspen.com/2019/06/07/king-charles-iii/


Wild Duck and Barnes Community Players Co-Producti

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