Sketch: Lydia Wilson, Oliver Chris, Richard Goulding and Tafline Steen in King Charles III

King Charles III

The smash hit play, King Charles III, Mike Barlett’s mock Shakespearean play about a constitutional crisis when Charles succeeds his mother after her death. Time called it a “future history play”.

Directed by Rupert Goold, the pitch perfect production premiered at London’s Almeida Theatre on 10 April 2014, before transferring to Wyndham’s in the West End for a short sell out run late last year.

“It won’t blow the palace sky high. But it’s theatrical dynamite, nonetheless,” said Caroline McGinn in Time Out.

Lydia Wilson’s manipulating Duchess of Cambridge with a touch of Lady Macbeth puts pressure on Oliver Chris’s uncanny William to intervene in his father’s refusal to uphold Parliament’s decisions. Richard Goulding’s likeable and restless Harry falls in love with the liberating but ultimately unstable Jess, a punky republican art student played by Tafline Steen.

Drawing: Nicholas Rowe in King Charles III at Wyndham’s Theatre

nic rowe

British actor Nicholas Rowe is currently part of the brilliant cast appearing in Rupert Goold‘s  popular production KING CHARLES III at London’s Wyndham Theatre.

Mike Bartlett’s play imagines what might happen if the Queen dies and the Prince of Wales becomes King, written mostly in blank verse.

Charles Spencer in The Telegraph describes it as the “most spectacular, gripping and wickedly entertaining piece of ‘lese-majeste’ that British theatre has ever seen.”

Nicholas plays the wily and deeply devious Leader of the Opposition who suggests to Charles that he refuse his Royal consent to a privacy law imposing restrictions on the media.

Since he came to prominence as a nineteen year old in Steven Spielberg’s production of YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, Nicholas has carved out a versatile career on both stage and screen, including LOCK,STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, DA VINCI’S DEMONS, MIDSOMER MURDERS, HOTEL BABYLON and HAMLET.

I was waiting at the Wyndham’s stage door which is located on a very busy alley-way, next to the Leicester Square tube station. It was the first saturday of the new year, approaching 2 pm, so the pre-matinée rush was on. However it was easy to pick Nicholas out from the crowd because of his height and distinctive looks and the fact he was casually strolling towards the stage door, albeit slowly as he stopped to chat to people. He was very friendly  as we discussed all manner of things from politics to future projects as he happily signed my sketch before heading in to do his bit for the constitutional crisis.

Drawing: Rupert Gould

Rupert Goold

The old adage, ‘if you want something done, give it to a busy person,’ certainly applies to pioneering English theatre director Rupert Goold. The artistic director of London’s Almeida Theatre and associate director at the Royal Shakespeare Company had two hit shows open weeks apart on the West End. After premiering at the Almeida, Mike Bartlett’s controversial play King Charles III transferred to the Wyndham’s Theatre on Charring Cross Road. It confronts the difficult question of what will happen when the Queen dies and a possible constitutional crisis ensues.

Rupert also directs the new musical Made in Dagenham with Gemma Arterton leading a feisty feminist strike force at the Ford auto factory in the east London suburbs. It’s the stage version of the popular feel good 2010 movie and opened on Guy Fawkes night this week.

As is custom, my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a slice of theatre. The precedent is a Shakespeare play, but this year for a slight deviation we went and saw King Charles III, which pays homage to the Bard, written in a blank verse style. I did this sketch of Rupert winning his Olivier a while back. He won the 2008 award for Best Director for the acclaimed Minerva Studio staging of Macbeth with Patrick Stewart in the title role.

It just so happened I had it in my bag that night – the same evening Made in Dagenham had its press night. Another deviation as we strolled to the train station, past the Adelphi Theatre stage door, where only minutes later the said director appeared with a large grin, indicating a successful opening (the show, not his mouth). A good time to get my sketch signed, which he was more than happy to do.

I immediately congratulated him on Charles III, which in hindsight seemed an odd thing to say at the premiere of his other show. That’s what happens when you’re the busiest director in town!

Drawing: Tim Pigott-Smith in King Charles III

Tom Pigott-Smith

Mike Barlett’s audacious new play King Charles III had its World Premiere at London’s Almeida Theatre in April this year (2014). It transferred to the Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End last week.

Helmed by Almeida’s Artistic Director Rupert Goold, it featured veteran actor Tim Pigott-Smith as Prince Charles who ascends the throne after his mother dies. The play centres on the pressures and purposes of the monarchy today.

It’s the first major play written in blank verse that the West End has seen for a very long time. The playwright wrote in iambic pentameter (the meter used by the Bard when writing verse, having ten syllables in each line – five pairs of alternating unstressed and stressed syllables) because he wanted the play to be a Shakespearean drama; a family epic in five acts, complete with a ghost and a comic subplot.

The smash hit received glowing reviews. The Telegraph states, “attendance is compulsory”. Michael Billington said “Tim Pigott-Smith gives the performance of his distinguished career”. Its original three month booking has been extended already.