Aired on KSDS-FM on 3/30/18
RUN DATES: 3/23/18 – 4/22/18
VENUE: Coronado Playhouse
I’m not sure how the royal family feels about “King Charles III,” but Shakespeare would love it.
Borrowing from the notorious borrower, playwright Mike Bartlett gleefully steals and subverts characters, plot-points and lines from the Bard’s plays.
His drama-with-comic-moments is written in iambic pentameter. But instead of re-creating history, Bartlett foretells it.
In the not-too-distant future, Queen Elizabeth passes on, and her son, Prince Charles, is ready to assume the throne. But like so many historical contenders to the crown, he won’t ascend without a struggle.
The first bill brought before him is designed to limit freedom of the press. Rejecting a role as mere rubber stamp, Charles refuses to sign. The result is chaos in the streets and in the palace.
Charles soliloquizes, questioning his identity, à la Hamlet. An ambitious, Lady Macbeth-like Kate sets a nefarious plot in motion to replace Charles with her husband, William. A composite of Macbeth’s witches and Hamlet’s apparition, the ghost of Princess Diana appears to offer enigmatic prophesies. And Harry, chafing at the constraints of royalty, acts very much like the young, party-hearty Prince Hal in “Henry IV.”
Bartlett’s ingenious creation, celebrated as Best New Play in its 2014 London premiere, garnered five Tony Award nominations when it ran on Broadway. It’s delicious fun, but also provocative and disturbing, viewed in light of the precarious state of freedom of our own press and the chaotic nature of our Capitol.
The Coronado Playhouse, a plucky community theater, has miraculously snagged the local premiere, offering a superb production under the confident and nuanced direction of Tyler Richards Hewes. An outstanding, sumptuously costumed ensemble of 17, many playing multiple roles, deftly displays a range of British class and dialect distinctions.
As a Charles look-alike, Richard Rivera paints a magnificent portrait of an indecisive man who, in choosing duty and principle over pomp and ceremony, manages to disrupt the monarchy and divide the country.
Everything about this excellent production is impressive. All one can say is: Long Live the King!
©2018 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews