A 2015 Olivier Award winner, 'King Charles III' is a drama of political intrigue: the Queen is dead, and after a lifetime of waiting, Prince Charles ascends the throne. More…
A future of power lies before King Charles III…but how to rule? The controversial play explores the people underneath the crowns, the unwritten rules of our democracy and the conscience of Britain's most famous family. Winner of the 2015 Olivier Award for Best Play.
"Mike Bartlett's flat-out brilliant portrait of a monarchy in crisis blazed open Sunday. Any echoes you may infer regarding a certain Danish prince are entirely appropriate to this dazzlingly presumptuous drama...Directed with fiery wit and rushing momentum by Rupert Goold...What could have been only a cleverly executed stunt is instead an intellectually and emotionally gripping study of the strangely enduring anachronism that is the British monarchy." Full Review
"It’s an absorbing, potent drama for anyone — American or British — who appreciates original playwriting, superb acting and exciting staging… Director Rupert Goold keeps the high drama of the climactic betrayals that ultimately surface from being predictable and overly melodramatic…'King Charles III' is a long play, but you won't be checking your watch. Long Live this King!" Full Review
"Not only does Bartlett (and his skillful director Rupert Goold) imagine a tale of serious shenanigans within Buckingham Palace; he does so with an ear finely tuned to a theme of the moment…Pigott-Smith’s face betrays every flicker of emotion, from elation to determination and shocking defeat..The actor will stay in your mind long after his crumpled, prone body has been consumed by the mob not outside, but within his rarefied circle." Full Review
"Even if you’re not one of the rare Americans fascinated with Britain’s Royal Family, Mike Bartlett’s 'King Charles III,' is likely to have you riveted for 2 ½ hours. With its superb acting, accessible yet elegant language, and thought-provoking plot twists, 'King Charles III' proves to not only be a royal treat, but one of Broadway’s finest offerings this year." Full Review
"In Bartlett’s smartly written and exquisitely performed drama, royal authority is challenged, familial drama complicates matters, and the power of language and what we are freely allowed to express are deftly explored. Impeccable pacing, steady direction, and the magic of superb acting create an evening of spectacle-free theatricality that is as impressive as it is entertaining. Let it be decreed, only a silly fool would dare miss an audience with 'King Charles III.'" Full Review
"It crackles with intrigue and ideas...A splendid Tim Pigott-Smith reprises his role as King Charles III…Rupert Goold keeps things so gripping that at one recent preview, audience members wouldn’t even cough during the final scenes…This play marks Bartlett’s Broadway debut and it’s a thunderously good one. 'King Charles III' is ingenuous, intelligent and intriguing. Forget the king: Long live the playwright!" Full Review
"A royal thriller of epic proportions. From betrayal, greed, power, love, and familiar woes, Bartlett covers it all. And in stunning fashion...It’s an ambitious endeavor in which he undoubtedly succeeds…Just when you thought the story couldn’t get better, Bartlett offers even more…'King Charles III' may appear daunting but it is a must see for theater lovers and theater goers alike. It would be a shame if the Bartlett’s future history doesn’t get recognized come Tony season." Full Review
"This play is both original and classic in a way that blows my mind...This play is written in iambic pentameter, and never has Shakespeare felt so relevant...You might imagine that the use of iambic pentameter would start off clever and then lose its charm, but the opposite happens — this speech pattern adds weight to the characters’ lines which feels increasingly fitting as the intensity rises." Full Review
"Playwright Mike Bartlett has woven a tale that plays like a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions...For 'King Charles III' to be fully realized as a rousing theatrical drama the actor playing the newly anointed king must be electrifying in his portrayal and Tim Pigott-Smith as Charles does just that. This is a tour de force performance that is full of anger, agony, indecision, and personal suffering. The rest of the cast is equally compelling...'King Charles III' is an absorbing and spellbind... Full Review
"Bartlett has created a Shakespeare for our times, writing in a fluid iambic pentameter that mingles formal locutions with contemporary colloquialisms and scene-ending rhymed couplets. Using striking soliloquies and a healthy splash of humor, he weaves the political, personal, and familial conflicts together in a marvelously integrated dramatic narrative that subtly incorporates echoes of King Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard II, Richard III, and Henry IV." Full Review
"This is no playful pastiche. From the moment the play opens it’s clear that grave issues are involved…The suspense is killing. The play is dead serious. The direction is pitiless. And the supporting cast is superb. But Pigott-Smith is phenomenal, not only capturing the guarded manner and haunted look of the Prince of Wales, but portraying a sense of human goodness and character nobility that can either elevate a monarch or damn him to oblivion." Full Review
"It’s political soap opera with soaring rhetoric. Still, Bartlett sets the bar so high, there’s room to quibble that some characters are underwritten...Bartlett’s otherwise bravura text also might have stalled if Rupert Goold’s staging weren’t so passionately acted and gorgeously designed...Galvanizing and astonishing, 'King Charles III' doesn’t just send you back to Shakespeare’s histories; it makes you want to write one." Full Review
"The persuasive grand manner with which the cast members perform as if vitalizing Shakespeare is notable... American audiences aren’t always as likely to be as electrified as their other-side-of-the-Atlantic counterparts, but Bartlett’s bold play remains utterly irresistible, a must-see." Full Review
"'King Charles III' is smashingly good. Here is a new Shakespearean tragedy, and one at which you won't likely be dozing off…The entire cast, imported for the occasion, is admirable. Bartlett more than exceeds his promise with 'King Charles III.' Goold provides a stunning Shakespearean production…The tragic tale makes first-rate theatre, though, measuring up to its progenitors. A canny conceit, done exceptionally well." Full Review
"Rupert Goold's expertly crafted production hums …Bartlett lays careful groundwork for a surprisingly gripping and original political thriller...The majestically human central performance without which the conceit would crumble is Pigott-Smith's as Charles, wisely sidestepping impersonation for more nuanced character study…That makes him a figure of enormous pathos and lends Shakespearean dimensions to the play's chilling finale." Full Review
"Starring Tim Pigott-Smith in a riveting performance as Charles, the play makes a Shakespearean tragedy out of the current monarchy...Rupert Goold directs a stellar cast, while Jocelyn Pook's music underscores both the solemnity and isolation of monarchy. Bartlett calls his work a 'future history play.' And while it may be fantasy, it makes for compelling theater." Full Review
"This combination of a sweeping larger view and a probing intimacy lets Bartlett craft a surprisingly deep and thoroughly involving play that both lives up to its dramatic forebears and feels freshly minted and necessary…Bartlett does occasionally overextend himself, but overall it's disciplined, blistering writing that earns the pride of place it's set for itself. All this is melded with an excellent cast, many of whom look like the spitting images of their real-world counterparts." Full Review
"Bartlett’s script is devoid of fat. For all its referential ties to the bard of Avon, it never seems pretentious or overblown. And the plot flows smoothly to its unavoidable conclusion…Pigott-Smith’s powerful performance is so rich it’s mesmerizing. A dark rainbow of ultimately desperate hues, he brings shaded nuance to a drama beautifully written and directed." Full Review
"Connecting on multiple levels, watching 'King Charles III' is akin to taking a political science master’s class. Filled with imagery and symbolism, the story is told in a perfect Shakespearian setting from the first moment of the play to the last...Rupert Goold’s direction is very strong throughout, taking the principal characters, many of whom are public figures as well as frequent objects of parody or caricature, and making them, if not always fully formed, completely interesting." Full Review
"Rupert Goold directs everything at a gripping pace, which is no easy task with subject matter this epic and thorny. One wonders if the show could have been polished, with the aid of an American co-director, to trim the unnecessary subplots. To audiences in Britain or any Commonwealth nation, 'King Charles III' is heady, provocative stuff. In America, however, the complicated political narrative and convoluted back story limit its appeal. However, 'King Charles III' is still a masterpiece. Lo... Full Review
"Watching 'King Charles III' is like looking at the topographical landscape of a familiar world, one which we faintly recognize despite not having yet seen. It is as fresh, as thrilling, and as awesome as an undiscovered country." Full Review
"What a brilliantly constructed piece of theatre 'King Charles III' is...The language in this production is as thrilling as the plot. Told in blank verse, there are several nods to our greatest dramatist...The writing, acting, music and staging combine to make this a really entertaining piece of what-if drama. It’s provocative and subversive. It’s tragic and funny." Full Review
"A work of considerable wit and high style, 'King Charles III' is best enjoyed for the audacity of its conception, the formal brilliance of its verse dialogue, and a gallery of characters brought to life by an unusually gifted cast. Presiding over it all is Tim Pigott-Smith, whose Charles is a confounding, yet utterly convincing, mixture of self-doubt and arrogance…In its later stretches, the play occasionally seems tendentious, even a tad too certain of its importance." Full Review
"It's a bold experiment with form and content that pays off in delightful and unexpected ways…Pigott-Smith leads the cast with the kind of overwrought intensity we've come to expect from tragic Shakespearean kings…Rupert Goold directs the production with simultaneous efficiency and grandeur…Granted, this extrapolated form doesn't always translate to Bartlett's chosen subject." Full Review
See it if You are at all interested in what might happen should Mumsy ever snuff it...something highly unlikely in the foreseeable future.
Don't see it if You couldn't care less about the English Crown
See it if you enjoy Shakespeare and know a bit about the current royals. This totally exceeded our expectations!
Don't see it if you're not a fan of plays or dramas. This show is dead serious & asks deep questions about royals in the modern age, politics and the media.
See it if you know a little bit about the English royal family and enjoy political drama, or family drama, you have ever questioned the way things are
Don't see it if You have no idea who Princess Diana was etc. you want theater to be easy
See it if You have a time travel machine and want to see a mix of Shakespeare, celeb gossip and showy candle sequences.
Don't see it if It's closed. Keeping this review here as a marker that I saw it this Broadway season. It was a fave.
See it if you love Shakespearean storytelling, poetic and relevant dramas.
Don't see it if you don't enjoy political family dramas, you don't enjoy Shakespeare and prefer easier to understand less complex stories.
See it if you like Shakespeare (there are many references, not least that it's written in iambic pentameter) and intelligent, thought-provoking plays.
Don't see it if you don't like wordy plays - there is little action. Try to get a seat in the middle. On the extreme sides it's hard to hear some lines.
See it if You are an anglophile and like to think. If you are up for a night of great acting, this is great. Try to sit towards the front!
Don't see it if You don't care about the royal family.
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