REVIEW: King Charles III

No Caption ABCDE SUS-150212-080849003
No Caption ABCDE SUS-150212-080849003

King Charles III, Theatre Royal Norwich

What a fascinating peek into the future this show is. It started out in a small North London theatre in 2014 and has quickly gained momentum to become a ‘must see’, with a move to the West End, a national tour and a trip to Oz.

The piece, written by Mike Bartlett (who had a hand in the hugely popular Dr Foster on telly recently), takes us into the near future when Queen Elizabeth II has just died and Prince Charles is soon to be crowned king.

But our thinker Prince cannot bring himself to sign his first royal bill which limits press freedom and thus goes into battle with Parliament - with devastating consequences.

And it is here that the play comes into its own, blending big political questions with witty observations. Robert Powell is simply terrific as Charles, not only capturing his mannerisms but also conveying his inner battles, and ultimately intransigent nature.

All the principal members of the royal family are involved: Camilla, played by Penelope Beaumont, backs her man all the way; Prince Harry, played by Richard Glaves, wants to leave the firm as he’s fallen for a republican art student.

But it’s the portrayal of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge that raises the most interest as they show more cunning than you’d imagine. And it is Kate (Jennifer Bryden) who comes across as the manipulative, ambitious one, who urges William to out-manoeuvre his father to protect the future of the sovereignty - and thus her children’s heritage.

The play is written in blank verse and does have an epic Shakespearean feel to it as you’re left to wonder just how close to the truth it all might be ...

King Charles III runs until Saturday, call 01603 630000

Sarah Hardy