Friday, 25 March 2016

Theatre 2016: Review Twelve

King Charles III, Theatre Royal Norwich, Norwich. March 2016.

A busy ten days of plays finished with another trip to my local theatre to catch another production on tour from London.  Although this had had two runs in the capital I'd not made it to either, I had however won a copy of the script from Twitter and so was keen to see the play when it was announced close to home.

The premise of the play is clear from the title, the Queen is dead, long live King Charles III.  However after waiting for such a long time Charles has ideas of his own as to how the monarchy should act and his first decision is not to sign a parliamentary bill.  This causes chaos and the slow burn of the first act ends with Charles dissolving Parliament in an attempt to get his way.  The secon act is clever in resolving this.

While pure fantasy this play is also alarmingly close to the mark in many ways and very thought provoking - like all convincing political issues all sides seem to make perfect sense, until you hear the next speaker.

In addition to the astute politics this play is a modern Shakespeare, many of the lines are in verse and as per many great Shakespeare plays all of the characters have their own defined way of speaking to highlight their differences further.  The staging is also very Shakespearean - all that was missing was the jig at the end.  King Charles III manages to also be like Shakespeare in that the blend of tragedy, comedy and history is all balanced perfectly to leave the audience off balance. I've seen reviews likening it to the great tragedies of Macbeth and Hamlet but personally I found there to be a lot of resonances with both Richard II and Henry IV pt 1.

This is a long play, and personally I think the pacing is better in the second half. I don't know what could be be trimmed but I did feel that the first act was a little too long.  I'm really pleased to have seen this and as the theatre was full on the night I went I hope it proves that there is an appetite for new, complex plays and that they should tour.

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