King Charles III at Chicago Shakespeare Theater: To see or not to see

King Charles III at Chicago Shakespeare Theater: To see or not to see
Charles (Robert Bathurst) boldly attempts to reassert the crown’s power following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II in Mike Bartlett’s award-winning new play King Charles III, directed by Gary Griffin at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, November 5, 2016–January 15, 2017. Photo by Liz Lauren.

The compelling comedy-drama King Charles III, that opened Wednesday at Chicago Shakespeare Theater offers an insightful look at what might happen--when and if--Charles, Prince of Wales, becomes king.

The prince, who turned 68 on November 14, 2016, has been a-prince-in-waiting for a very long time.

In real life, while waiting, Prince Charles has pursued many interests and causes yet his destiny to take his rightful place as monarch--has eluded him-as he continues to wait, now at an age where most men and women are looking towards retirement.

In Mike Bartlett's award-winning imagined story, the queen, that would be Elizabeth II, has died and Charles has just become king. He is saddened by the death of his mom and wonders what kind of a king he will be.

He wants to make a difference--in a sense to shake up a monarchy that has played a passive and ornamental role for centuries.


Chaos ensues when he decides to buck Parliament--always a no-no in past monarchies--and take his stand by not signing a bill that would limit the rights of the press in invading personal privacy.

Part fantasy, part comedy, King Charles III offers a serious inquiry into the role the monarchy plays in Britain.

Downton Abbey's Robert Bathurst makes his debut appearance at CST in the title role of the beleaguered monarch-to-be with all the royals including  Prince William (Jordan Dean), Prince Harry (Alec Manley Wilson), Kate Middleton (Amanda Drinkall) and Camilla Parker Bowles (Kate Skinner) at his side.

Other cast members including Sean Fortunato as the prime minister Tristan Evans; David Lively as the leader of the opposition Mark Stevens and Rae Gray as Jess Edwards, the working-class art student, who steals Prince Harry's heart complete the near perfect cast for this outstanding play under the very able direction of Gary Griffin.

The timeliness of the show in relation to what's happening now in American politics can not be overlooked making King Charles III even more relevant today than when it was first produced in 2014.

Written and performed in Shakesperian style, King Charles III delivers soliloquies, rhyming couplets and even a ghost--creating a Shakespeare for the 21st  century.

Methinks the Bard would approve.


To see or not to see:  A Show Me Chicago must see                           Rating: 4 out of 4 stars
When: Now through January 15, 2017
Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand on Navy Pier
Tickets and information: $48 – $88, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Running time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission

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Filed under: Theater in Chicago

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