"King Charles III"
Nottingham Theatre Royal.
Nottingham Theatre Royal.
This new play is going to divide audiences slightly, which for the theatre in my eyes is always a good thing as it gives rise to discussion. The elderly gentleman to my left made a big deal of voicing his opinion as being"the most boring play seen in the theatre" when the interval came about, although he did stick around for the complimentary drinks before not returning for the second half. If he had stayed for the second half he would have discovered a powerful, thoughtful and well crafted play.
The Queen has died and Charles is set to take the throne to become King Charles III. He doesn't agree with what Parliament is trying to do so, wields his royal power and disbands Parliament to make sure that they don't carry out what they want to do against his wishes. But there's a force closer to home that is more dangerous to the new king to be than that of the public and Parliament put together.
Robert Powell plays Charles, and I was so pleased that he didn't try to create the typical Charles characterisation and make him a figure of comedy. Instead what Mr Powell did play up was Prince Charles' rhythms of his voice, his vocal mannerisms without trying to do a poor impression, and that was what I was afraid might happen. Robert Powell has always been a favourite actor of mine with a varied and colourful history of characters from comedy with Jasper Carrott to Jesus Christ, and now gives a brilliantly passionate performance of royalty.
Penelope Beaumont played Camilla, Jennifer Bryden played Kate, and Jennifer is a dead ringer for the real Kate, and the only cast member to actually look like the people being portrayed. Not looking like the royals though was not a minus point because this play is that good, when it gets going, into the second act, the writing stands alone.
Richard Glaves plays a headstrong and slightly naive Harry, who wants to renounce his title just to be a "normal bloke" and Lucy Phelps plays Harry's bit of stuff, Jess. Ben Righton played William who is the next in line to the throne, after Charles, shows a side of the Prince that maybe we've all wanted to see, and acts on his forthright and urgent ambitions.
The whole cast are incredibly tight and strong and we even get to see a ghostly Diana who appears to Charles and William separately, predicting them both to be the "greatest king ever".
A brilliant set which is deceptively spacious and makes you feel that you are in a massive brick warehouse, simple but at the same time effective.
The script is the sort of script that maybe William Shakespeare may have written if he were alive today, witty and with the same rhythm and rhyme as the great bard himself. A really clever view of what may happen in the future with the monarchy.
The music, composed by Jocelyn Pook, was also atmospheric and really set the tone beautifully and was the cherry on top of the royal cake.
OK it may be a little slow in Act one but many great plays are like this but stick around long enough and you'll discover a right royal gem here. Smart, classy, funny, a slow burner with a great ending. There aren't too many plays who can have a two minutes section of absolute silence which said so much at the end.
"King Charles III" is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 10 October 2015