I have never been one of those crazy Americans wrapped up in everything the royal family does. Sure, I watched Charles and Diana get married and I visited Buckingham Palace when I was in London, but I don't make a habit of knowing everything going on with them. When I heard the play King Charles III was coming to Broadway, I thought it could be interesting (and my other half who DOES follow the royal family wanted to see it). Last season I had seen The Audience which showed us the Queen and her weekly visits with the Prime Minister which gave us a great glimpse into the life of the reigning monarch. Then I discovered that much of this new play written by Mike Bartlett and coined "A Future History Play" was written in iambic pentameter and I was frightened to sit through the 2 hour and 40 minute play. As frightened as I sometimes am when seeing Shakespeare.
Boy was I wrong.
What a brilliantly written and conceived theatrical piece. Mr. Bartlett may write some in verse, but it is so modern that it trips off their tongues quite easily. I am so impressed with the nod to Shakespeare with the themes of royalty, betrayal, greed, and family. The play is set in the 'not too distant future' when Queen Elizabeth has passed and Charles must take over the throne. However instead of signing off on what Parliament and the Prime Minister has deemed as new laws, he challenges the political system with his own thoughts of how the country should run and sets the show in motion.
As an American, you can't help but think about the checks and balance in our own government. Still, it is amazing to think that a Prime Minister must run items past the royal family due to the tradition of that country. Tradition plays a huge part in this futuristic play. How does one hold on to tradition and yet change with the times? Mr. Bartlett has laid these issues out so well and Rupert Goold has directed it as if he is directing a piece by Shakespeare written centuries ago. The set by Tom Scutt is very effective and Jocelyn Pook's original music adds greatly to the overall tone of the evening. The entire show starts with a Requiem for the Queen which is moving and powerful.
It is this amazing cast that helps to vividly propel this evening along and takes us on a journey. Acting as an ensemble, they each have their moments to shine. We may not know the real Macbeths and Richard the IIs when we see a Shakespearean piece, but you come into this feeling you know Charles, William, Kate, and Camilla. Each of these performers are wonderful, but I must give a shout out to Tim Pigott-Smith in the title role who had me feeling for Charles in this mammoth role. He intensely attacks this role as if he is playing Othello or King Lear...and makes one think years from now, people will view this royal family in the same manner.
I stopped to think that it's funny that so far this season, my favorite Broadway shows have both dealt with history (Hamilton and King Charles III)...even if one is future history.
Get your tickets now to this limited run so you can witness the entire London cast that has lived these lives for a while before it ever transferred to Broadway.