“The queen is dead. Long live the king.”
Playwright Mike Bartlett imagines a not-so-distant future in which Queen Elizabeth II has died and Charles is crowned king. Shakespearean DNA runs through the very core of the play, from the regal themes to the script written in blank verse. Charles (played Ted Cole) evokes a sense of Hamlet, while Prince William (Oliver Rice) and Kate (Katherine Gauthier) seem to be channelling the power-hungry Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Prince Harry (Charlie Gallant) and his friends evoke Prince Hal and Falstaff’s merry antics. There’s even a ghost (of Diana, played by Lauren Bowler).
Though billed as a “jovial political satire,” the play seems more sombre than wittily satirical. Problematic pacing contributes to a run time of almost three hours, draining much energy from the actors’ performances. Tweaking and tightening might have made King Charles III live up to the Bard’s blueprint for entertainment that is simultaneously amusing and thought-provoking.
The sets, designed by Kevin McAllister, are a real standout.
Costume designer Christopher David Gauthier also deserves special mention.