King Charles III – By Mike Bartlett – Now Playing at Dramashop

Reviewed by Craig Schneider

The Queen is Dead. Long Live the King! After a lifetime of waiting, Prince Charles finally becomes KING CHARLES III. Billed as a “future history play” the subject matter is topical given all of the recent dramas surrounding the British Monarchy: “The Crown”, “Victoria” “The Queen” “The King’s Speech” to name only a few. And everything new is old again with much of the script written in blank verse. Those who have brushed up on their Shakespeare will delight in the many tongue in cheek references to at least 4 of his plays.

The Opening Night was Sold Out. The Set consisted of 5 doors and a checkerboard floor, for the many actors who enter, move about and exit on the chess board of Buckingham Palace.

Enter Charles III, played by Joe Haas, in his DramaShop debut and father of the talented young Director, Michael Haas. In a passing way, Joe does resemble the stiff and out of touch Prince Charles. Not an easy role to do, as there are a lot of lines and much exposition of arcane British governance. Charles first crisis of leadership is a bill passed by the House and brought to him for his assent, that would protect privacy and restrict the tabloids from publishing anything they want.

To sign or not to sign, that is the question. One would think that will his late Wife Diana hounded by the press into a fatal car accident, this would be a no brainer for Charles. But in a defiant speech, he affirms the freedom of the press. Our newly elected royalty in the US should take note here. Political unrest and violent protest ensues and as guards and a tank are parked outside the palace and crowds of anarchists masked as Guy Fawkes room the streets of Britain.

Eli Coppock, as the leader of the opposition, gives a spot on portrayal of the modern conniving politician, oozing and cooing, even his hair is slicked back. The Prime Minister is strongly played by Tristan Evans, doing what he can to prevent a constitutional crisis. Every Shakespeare play has its fool, and we have Danny Desrochers as that loveable lout, Prince Harry. He parties in the pubs and falls hard for Commoner Jess (Katrina Buchannan), an art student and rebel who’s racy indiscreet online postings are fodder for the British tabloids.

Nicholas Emmanuele, who may be the best Shakespeare interpreter locally, and Emily Olszewski inhabit the roles of the William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is expertly portrayed by Betsy Butroyak, who stands by her man but seems powerless to shake Charles of his monomania. The sexy and strong Catherine channels Lady Macbeth who in her calculating ambition as the outsider controlling the throne, convinces William that he should be King. There are some hints here and there that maybe this was perhaps the role that Lady Diana might have played as the power behind Prince Charles. The Ghost of Lady Diana, played by stage veteran Judy Stow, haunts both Charles and William, egging them on that they will be the best king ever.

I especially enjoyed Austin Shaffer with his droll humor as Charles’s Butler. He and JJ Theisen cover quite a few other parts. Kudos to the Production Team and for the mood music to keep the tension going in between and during scenes. Costuming and props can be quite a challenge for a small theater, but everything comes together nicely to get the job done.

Please come and see this show if you can. Future performances are 2/3, 2/4, 2/10 and 2/11/17. Curtain is at 8PM. Please visit http://dramashop.org/box-office/ for tickets.




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