King Charles III

Published September 12, 2014

What’s it all about?

The Queen is dead. Charles is on the throne and finally seizes his chance to make a difference. His first decision, though, is so contentious it could bring the country to its knees.

Both topical and timeless, Mike Bartlett’s superlative writing has the poetry, grandeur, themes and tropes of Shakespeare, a cast of recognisable characters and tackles everything from familial power struggles to freedom of the press.

Who’s in it?

Tim Pigott-Smith leads the cast in the title role, presenting for the most part a caring monarch who believes he can make the country better, before descending into near Lear-ish territory.

Lydia Wilson brings an air of Lady Macbeth to the driven, demure Kate, while Royal Shakespeare Company regular Richard Goulding has hints of Henry IV’s Hal as the partying Harry near destroyed by this wish to be free of the burdens of state.

What should I look out for?

The world’s wisest kebab shop owner holding court on the erosion of Great Britain.

Jocelyn Pook’s stunning score that reflects the entire production in combining the Shakespearean and the modern with an alchemy that creates theatrical gold.

Who was in the first night audience?

Top Gear controversy baiter Jeremy Clarkson was sat behind me. Theatrical knight and legendary press-winder-upper Michael Gambon was a couple of rows in front. And Tom Hollander, who bears a remarkable resemblance to cast member Adam James, was sat across the aisle.

In a nutshell?

All hail the kings! Bartlett and director Rupert Goold combine to create another theatrical must-see.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@beccyward23 #KingCharlesIII tonight was TREMENDOUS. Extremely clever and witty. Loved it.

@stewartwpringle #KingCharlesIII must be the best thing in the West End since Jerusalem, yeah?

Will I like it?

Fair disclosure time: I’m a big fan of Goold-directed productions. I admire the playfulness and invention with which he can attack a show. This is the least Gooldian Goold production I’ve seen in a while. The bells and whistles are few and far between. This lessens nothing.

King Charles III is an intelligent, poetic, thoughtful, witty, emotional drama packed with perfect performances. So yes, I think you will.

King Charles III is booking at the Wyndham’s Theatre until 29 November. You can book tickets through us.

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