King Charles III, Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth, until Saturday May 4.
An award-winning play has been revived with a few twists to entertain audiences with its controversial take on the role of monarchy and government.
King Charles III, by Mike Bartlett, won the Laurence Olivier Award for best new play in 2015.
The action is set in what was then the future, at the funeral of the Queen, when Charles III is awaiting his coronation. It is in blank verse, giving it the sound of something written by Shakespeare and with some dramatic actions to match.
Charles has his regular meeting with the Prime Minister (Ms Evans rather than the Mr of the original play), but influenced by manipulation from the leader of the opposition (again given a gender swop from female to male) decides against routinely signing off a bill, stopping from becoming law an Act which would have restricted press freedoms. From this a constitutional crisis follows, leading to rioting in the streets - and he still hasn’t even been crowned.
Talisman veteran Phil Reynolds is masterful as Charles despite not looking like him, adopting some of his mannerisms and seriousness. Leigh Walker as Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, is also excellent as she becomes a Shakespearian-style wife, smiling in a steely manner as she manipulates her husband and reveals her real ambition. As youthful Harry, “a ginger joke”, Ted McGowan in his first play at the theatre is engaging as the young man trying to find his place in the world. And of course the ghost of Diana is never far from any royal proceedings….
The play is already dated – William only had two children then, and Harry is a playboy and hadn’t met Megan Markle - but if you put that criticism aside there’s still some very good performances and some pertinent questions raised.