King Charles III at the Almeida
We’re all too familiar with Royalty-focused theatre – we’ve seen Shakespeare’s plays revolving around the likes of Henry V, Richard III, Edward III, but we were yet to see a show as bold, modern and daring as Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III until now. The controversial play centres around the destiny of the monarchy and imagines a dystopian future in which the Prince of Wales reigns o’er us. A ghastly thought indeed…
Bartlett’s speculative story sees Charles Windsor torn between his conscience and new-found power, eventually refusing to sign the bill restricting the freedom of the press, which brings the country to the brink of civil war. We also see what the future has in store for the nation’s sweetheart Kate Middleton, who having had quite enough of her sole purpose as William’s trophy, is revealed to be a scheming, power-hungry snake who forces her father-in-law to abdicate the throne. Well, we didn’t see that coming. Prince Harry begs to have his royal privileges removed so he can live like common people after falling in love with a Republican, punk art student. We sort of saw that one coming.
If Shakespeare were alive today, this could easily be one of his works. Shakespearean devices are prevalent throughout the performance – the play is written in traditional blank verse, the first half filled with jocularity (leading up to the sinister, action-filled second half) and we even see echoes of Macbeth in a ghostly, prophesying apparition of Princess Diana. Controversial, thought-provoking, and bloody hilarious – unless of course, you’re the Prince of Wales.
Photo: Johan Persson
King Charles III is on at Almeida Theatre until 31st.May 2014, for further information or to book visit here.