Members say: Great acting, Clever, Absorbing, Intelligent, Ambitious

About the show

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.

... Read 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.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"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 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


"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


"You might call Mike Bartlett's abundantly clever and thoroughly engaging 'King Charles III' the history play Shakespeare might have written if he were still cranking them out late in the 21st Century…The play may be all talk, but within that talk is plenty of action, and director Rupert Goold's brisk and suspenseful production is an engaging adventure...By taking a peek into the future, 'King Charles III' is history-making fun." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"Mike Bartlett’s 'King Charles III' is breathtakingly audacious and a lot of nasty fun…Tim Pigott-Smith looks relatively little like Charles; he is nevertheless masterfully convincing in the role…In the end, 'King Charles III' justifies its chutzpah even as it flies off the rails in the chaotic plotting of Act Two. You are engaged by its intrigue and moved, almost against your will, by its characters, then somewhat trampled by the onrush of events required to produce its powerful final tableau." Full Review

Time Out New York

"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 Huffington Post

"'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

The Guardian (UK)

"A splendid provocation and a really fine play… I don’t think it will surprise anyone, least of all Bartlett, to say that he lacks Shakespeare’s gift for figuration and metaphor…If some of the middle feels workmanlike, the ending has poignancy and heft. There is a moment in the final scene that invites and earns audience gasps...Bartlett’s dark vision of a monarchy no longer content with being quite so ceremonial deserves a long Broadway reign." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"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

DC Theatre Scene

“Director Rupert Goold has deepened the sense of an Elizabethan drama with a superb cast, led by Tim Pigott-Smith…The acting helps elevate the plot to the feel of tragedy, despite some tabloid-tawdry goings-on…'King Charles III' was ecstatically received in London. The British critics were largely adoring, one observing that the play 'raises fascinating questions about the future of the monarchy.' I don’t find the questions so fascinating." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"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

The Huffington Post

"While Goold does good in helming this new play/ The end drags on, though ain't that just Will's way?/It's smart and sad and fun barely legal:/A history play whose future is regal." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"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

The Hollywood Reporter

"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

AM New York

"Under the smooth direction of Rupert Goold, 'King Charles III' is an entertaining, provocative, highly stylized thriller. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing more playwrights experiment with age-old devices and apply "what if?" scenarios to contemporary politics. Tim Pigott-Smith is fully animated as Charles, depicting his tragic journey from pondering figurehead to dangerous autocrat. It's the kind of performance you'd call Shakespearean in scope." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"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

New York Theatre Guide

"The production’s greatest strength is the impressive degree of commitment put forth by the cast...The audience, never for a moment, doubts the truth on stage. Whether or not you will enjoy this truth depends on how much you agree with the decisions, in terms of balance, made by playwright Mike Bartlett and director Rupert Goold and, of course, how much you care about British politics." Full Review

Out Magazine

"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

Talkin' Broadway

"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

Chicago Tribune

"Bartlett's quite brilliant play offers an entrancing if apocalyptically chaotic vision of the royal follies yet to come, once Elizabeth is gone…On this side of the Atlantic, the play, directed by Rupert Goold, gains certain interesting echoes.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Mike Bartlett’s 'King Charles III' is like an adult fantasy done Dr. Seuss style (iambic pentameter) with a plot that makes no sense…This whole cast is simply marvelous…Maybe, I am not so mesmerized by the Brits, especially Charles. Maybe, if I was going to hear iambic pentameter, I’d rather read the book. Maybe, the King has no clothes and I just can’t buy the Kool-Aid.” 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


"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

Theater In The Now

"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

The Associated Press

"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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Clever, Great acting, Resonant, Great staging

See it if What if? True actors.

Don't see it if Have disdain for the monarchy....well, maybe reason to see.

Ambitious, Clever, Relevant, Slow

See it if you are interested in power politics. For me, KC was more to be admired than loved. Some strong acting and surprises, but also tedium.

Don't see it if you're expecting Shakesp (KC lacks his genius). The grandiose parts were boring. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I didn't have fun.

Also I'm catching up on reviews of shows I saw before S-S membership. I had... Read more Read less

Captivating, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if the British monarchy interests you or if you want to see a masterful show. The acting and writing are superb.

Don't see it if you want singing.

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Slow, Interesting

See it if You like monarchists plays with a Shakespearean flare

Don't see it if You don't enjoy Shakespeare-style language or are looking for a play with more showing and less talking.

Ambitious, Clever, Disappointing, Overrated, Superficial

See it if you are an Anglophile and enjoy gossipy stories about royalty.

Don't see it if you expect a profound take on a serious subject. This ain't Shakespeare!

Clever, Great acting, Must see, Great writing

See it if great writing, great acting, and great concept.

Don't see it if you won't, it closed.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent

See it if you love British history, The Royals & culture, want insight on what could happen in the upcoming yrs ahead for the Throne

Don't see it if you dislike contemporary theatre that flashes forward to a possible future outcome

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you can appreciate Elizabethan language being used to great effect to tell a thoroughly modern and engrossing "what if" story.

Don't see it if you have trouble understanding English accents.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if you enjoy structured and formulaic language (think Shakespeare) and a complicated but riveting family historical/future drama

Don't see it if you want an easy experience; something that doesn't require deep listening and analysis

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Masterful, Must see

See it if you've ever enjoyed even a moment of a Shakespearean History, watched William & Kate get married, or want metered plays to make a come back

Don't see it if you are politically disengaged. Hate alternate history or ending scenes with rhyming couplets.

Also Aside from A View From A Bridge, this was the best play I saw all seas... Read more Read less

Funny, Clever, Delightful, Edgy, Great acting

See it if you'd liket to see a refreshing take on the (possible) future of the British royal family using Shakespearean-esque structure and speak

Don't see it if you're not familiar with who's who in the royal family

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful

See it if you would like to see what a modern Shakespeare play would sound like.

Don't see it if you hate British shows.

Original, Clever, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if How clever. Very underrated. Go see this one. The acting... wow!

Don't see it if You don't like British fare.

Original, Ambitious, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if You ate interested in the royal family and what would happen if Queen Elizabeth dies

Don't see it if You want a colorful stage. I fell asleep on this one.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy seeing hypothetical situations played out.

Don't see it if you know nothing about British royalty or government.

Clever, Thought-provoking, Refreshing, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you're interested in a muscular, playful, and light-on-its-feet genre-parody with delightfully Shakespearean turns and memorable characters

Don't see it if you're looking for something with Shakespeare's musicality more than his structure

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you want to see a brilliantly done play. Great directing and acting. Good story of an alternative storyline for the current royal family.

Don't see it if you are looking for a more light-hearted night of entertainment.

Original, Intense, Indulgent, Banal, Overrated

See it if you like modern day brits performing in iambic pantameter

Don't see it if you want to have an enjoyable evening

Clever, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you're interested in a smartly written, well staged and acted play that uses the techniques of Shakespeare to tell a contemporary story.

Don't see it if you're not interested in the British royals.

Original, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if You want insight into the English mindset and thoughtful writing

Don't see it if You're in the mood for light-hearted fare!

Ambitious, Relevant, Disappointing, Slow, Great staging

See it if I think I had higher hopes , technically well executed, some really great acting, and the staging was epic. Writing did mimic Shakespeare.

Don't see it if I'm not sure what was off for me. I'm not sure I found it as interesting or believable as I hoped. I am a fan of Bartlett, usually.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Riveting

See it if you want to see something truly brilliant, clever, quirky, ingenious, and timely.

Don't see it if you are averse to Shakespeare.

Clever, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing

See it if Are interested in British Royalty and what could happen if/when Charles takes the throne.

Don't see it if You have no interest in the Royals.

Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you’re looking for contemporary royal politics presented in Shakespearean verse ... and working brilliantly!

Don't see it if you hate the fascination with the royal family.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Resonant, Great writing

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.

Cast & Creatives (20)