Until November 19th, experience the reign of King Charles III at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.
Queen Elizabeth II has passed and King Charles III has ascended to the Throne, but even before the Crown is upon his head, controversy and confrontation with his Parliament erupts. Asked to sign his assent to a bill limiting freedom of the press, he doesn’t agree with Charles flexes his god-given right as regent to decline ascent which causes a conflict between Crown and State and by extension, the public. Like a Shakespearean drama, the behind-closed-doors Royal family conversations and audiences with Ministers create for interesting ‘what if’ scenarios that the future king’s reign may hold. This King tries to control his destiny while forces for and against him work their own agendas.
While the play is set in the future, the basis for the storyline is based on the 2011 Levenson Enquiry into the British media’s phone hacking scandal. In spite of being based on a fairly recent, the speed at which the news cycle changes its focus and the personal growth of some of the Royals, especially Prince Harry, who is portrayed as the flippant playboy of old, make some of the play’s content already feel out of date. Brexit now rules the headlines, Harry is now a settled, social advocate and government officials trying to limit freedom of the press is now very much a reality, no longer hypotheticals.
Ted Cole’s King Charles brings a regal air to the stage, as he addresses both his court and the public (the audience), and delivers play’s blank verse. While many of the other characters seem to lose the rhythm of the verse, as well as their accents, throughout the course of the play, the unevenness is also, perhaps, the reason the satirical aspect of the work seems to fall flat. The Duchess of Cambridge is controversially portrayed by Katherine Gauthier as a power-hungry, not-soon-enough future Queen. Leader of the Opposition and political fence-sitter Mrs Stevens (Christine Willes) shows us a perfect ‘politician’. Charlie Gallant as Prince Harry also stands out as the prince tries to shed his old ways and find love. The side-story of Harry’s love interest, Jess, meant to be a republican well below the class of the Prince, however the character loses its controversy on this side of the Atlantic and could have been dropped from the play without any real loss.
Against the simple set designed by Kevin McAllister, Christopher David Gauthier’s detailed and elegant costumes help elevate the Royals and level the commoners. Gauthier’s spot-on recreation of the style icons we know Diana, Kate and Camilla help the actresses become the women. The costumes help us spot who’s who even when not speaking, as the play opens with the whole Royal cast lining up on stage at the funeral and ends at the Coronation.
King Charles III runs until November 19th at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Tickets are on sale online at artsclub.com