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Greater London
posted/updated: 09 Jun 2019 -
King Charles III
Mike Bartlett
society/company: Barnes Community Players Ltd (directory)
performance date: 08 Jun 2019
venue: Kitson Hall, Kitson Road, Barnes, SW13 SW13 9HJ
reviewer/s: Samantha Cartwright (Sardines review)

The play by Mike Bartlett is written in blank verse, with the original production premiering at the Almeida Theatre, London in 2014 before moving to the West End and Broadway, winning the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Play.

King Charles III, is set in the future shortly after the Queen's death. Prince Charles has waited his whole life to ascend to the British throne, but after the Queen's death, he immediately finds himself fighting his conscience over a bill to sign into law. His refusal begins a constitutional crisis. The other members of the royal family are also experiencing change and we follow them through their turmoil's and decisions.

This co-production is set in Kitson Hall, a large room with the actors in-the-round and surrounded by the audience. The atmosphere is very serious and a crown sits on a cushion centre stage. We are introduced to all every character very quickly which becomes a case of recognising who is meant to be representing who. It's obvious the actors have studied their respective 'royal' (or associated role) as some are an uncanny portrayal of the actual people. The acting is a very high standard, it's clear that many are either trained actors or have a lot of experience. Daniel Wain (King Charles III) is in almost every scene with a huge amount of dialogue, he is a very impressive character actor. Francesca Stone (Kate) steals every scene she is in, not only is she so believable as Kate, but her confidence in her performance shines through.

The scenes are changed by stage hands entering and moving the set around, it's very simple but does the job. The lighting (Chuma Emembolu and Joanna Field) sets the mood very nicely, and creates a dramatic and intense atmosphere at points when needed.

The wardrobe department (Pennie Bayliss/Darrol Blake and Marion Earle) have created the most beautiful costumes, every single character has many changes and the detail given to each one is extraordinary.

It has all the right elements, great actors, impressive costumes, the correct atmosphere but something isn't right for me. The performance lasts for three hours and ten minutes (including the interval) and it feels longer. There are points where I simply feel uncomfortable; the portrayal of the ghost of Princess Diana being one of them, and Camilla being made to look a bit like an evil stepmother another. It seems the conversations between Charles and the Prime minister are very repetitive and drawn out, almost allowing the audience to drift in and out of the conversation. All of this is possibly down to the script rather than the performers. I acknowledge the hard work and skill gone into the production but found myself looking forward to it ending.

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