King Charles III – 'wickedly entertaining' royal drama

Apr 14, 2014

Almeida's new comedy drama on the future on the monarchy 'fascinating' and 'brilliant', say critics

Johan Persson

What you need to know
A new comedy drama about the future of the monarchy King Charles III has opened at the Almeida Theatre, London. The play is written by Mike Bartlett, best known for the ITV drama The Town.

King Charles III takes the form of a Shakespearean history play and uses it to imagine the difficult early days after Prince Charles finally becomes king. Charles wants to reassert the role of the monarchy with disastrous results.

Rupert Goold directs a cast starring Tim Pigott-Smith as Charles. Runs until 31 May.

What the critics like 
"Bold, brilliant and unstoppably entertaining", Bartlett's new play has all the intrigue and momentum of a real historical play, says Dominic Maxwell in The Times. It makes us care, makes us laugh, and no doubt will make us argue too - theatre doesn't get much better than this.

"It is the most spectacular, gripping and wickedly entertaining piece of lese-majeste that British theatre has ever seen," says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. The play manages to be moving as well as funny, and is given a superb, high-definition production by Goold.

It is, of course, all fantasy, but it "raises fascinating questions about the future of the monarchy", says Michael Billington in The Guardian. And it acquires a borrowed grandeur through its Shakespearean form and a tragic dimension thanks to the performance of Tim Pigott-Smith.

What they don't like 
The playfulness of King Charles III "occasionally borders on the glib", says Sam Marlowe on ArtsDesk. It's unquestionably clever, but it sometimes feels like a game of chess and a disengaging air of contrivance creeps in.        

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