Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Charles the Third in London


So, I saw Charles the Third in London and I LOVED it.  It was great.  Turns out it was written by a playwright I adore, Mike Barlett.  I have recently seen his plays Cock and Bull, and reviewed them both.  Cock I liked so much I went back twice, the first time with Ed and Simon, the second time with Ed and someone else (yes, Ed saw it twice).  But back to Charles the Third.
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It is the story of Charles taking over as King upon the death of Queen Elizabeth.  Almost immediately the funeral, Charles is presented with a bill to sign that is objectionable.  And, Charles is right.  It essentially removes Freedom of the Press if Parliament decides it wants to do it.
Adam James as the Prime Minister and Tim Pigott-Smith as Charles
Charles asks the Prime Minister to revise the law – but it is too late.  It turns out that “advice” is only nominal and the Prime Ministrer will not change it.  Ultimately (with some very very bad advice from the opposition leader) Charles refuses to sign it and that prompts a crisis.
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Charles is played by Tim Pigott-Smith and he is great.  He doesn’t really look like Charles, but he does convey the essential paradox.  This is a man who believes he is destined to serve the country.  He is very traditional about service to God and Country, while not particularly likeable, the character is quite admirable.  (Also Timothy Pigott-Smith, doesn't that just sound regal?)
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The Prime Minister is played by Adam James.  This was very fun for me because saw reviewed Adam in Bull in a theater where I literally stood right outside the stage (it was set like an office as boxing cage).  He is a great actor, playing full of bravado with the best of them.  Adam is a really forceful actor and it was cool seeing him do this.
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Lydia Wilson as Kate and Oliver Chris as William

The play then takes the audience deeper into the crisis, with two leaders that cannot back down.  There is manipulation by the Opposition leader, grandstanding by the military, and scheming by Kate (of William and…), carousing by Henry.  It is very current, but very Shakespearian in its machinations.  And, wait for it, written in Iambic Pentameter!  I couldn’t believe it.
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Beautiful.
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Note the Mural in the background, then compare it to another view of the same mural in top picture.

And the space was great.  It is an old semi-circular place (with an interesting mural across it for the show – that reads differently from different distances).  It is up in Islington at the Angel stop on the Tube.  I had never been up there, and it was a very cool, fun little area.  Not a lot for tourists to do, but cool restaurants and fun people.

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