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'King Charles III' Reigns on Broadway.

by Photo of Paul Hansen

‘King Charles III’ Reigns on Broadway.

'King Charles III' Reigns on Broadway.

The reign of royalty on Broadway continues with a production of King Charles III authored by Mike Bartlett. The play about Prince Charles follows in the footsteps of the Broadway production of The Audience which featured Helen Mirren and dealt with the current English Monarch.  King Charles III is a speculative play about Queen Elizabeth II’s oldest son and heir to the British throne.   The drama won the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2015.     

Charles III takes place at some point in the future when Charles has actually assumed the throne.    The Prime Minister presents Charles with a bill for his signature relating to regulation of personal information in the press.     

In order for an act of Parliament to become law in Great Britain, the bill requires the Monarch’s signature. It is widely known that the British Monarchy is largely ceremonial and it is extremely rare for the Monarch’s assent to be withheld.   However, Charles is disturbed by what he considers the excessive nature of the bill and refuses to grant his assent, leading to a constitutional crisis and a virtual civil war. 

A redeeming feature of the production is the performance of Tim Pigott-Smith as Charles.  The perception I have of the actual Prince Charles is that he is a very articulate, cultured and compassionate man who has a faint tinge of melancholy about him.  Pigott-Smith physically resembles Charles and captures all of these character traits.   The actor’s extensive credits include appearances in Downton Abbey and the James Bond thriller Quantum of Solace

Charles III  has several other cast members who look remarkably like their actual counterparts – particularly Richard Goulding as Prince Harry and Lydia Wilson as Princess Catharine.   Goulding projects a rascally good natured prince and Wilson radiates the sparkling effervescence of the former Miss Middleton.    Margot Leicester as Charles’ wife Camilla delivers her lines in a well timed, often comically pithy manner. 

Those seeking juicy gossip about Charles and his former wife Diana will be disappointed as there is (thankfully) very little if any of it in the script. Interestingly, the play was written in iambic pentameter,  a form of verse frequently employed by Shakespeare.    

The production is directed by Rupert Goold and Tim Scutt designed an atmospheric set which alternatively resembles the interior of a medieval castle or cathedral.  Jocelyn Pook also provided equally atmospheric music.

King Charles III is receiving audiences through January 31, 2016 at The Music Box Theatre located at 239 West 45 th St.

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