Published on February 14th, 2018 | by Guest Contributor
It’s a Good Time to Be a CAA Member and a Theatre Fan.
Did you know the new CAA Theatre (formerly the Panasonic Theatre) at 651 Yonge Street offers CAA Members up to 50% off tickets to select Mirvish productions, as well as exclusive perks, including complimentary coffee and coat check with simply the swipe of their Membership card?
This was my experience when I arrived for the Studio 180 matinee production of King Charles III, currently running from February 10 to March 4. This award-winning and somewhat controversial 2014 play by Michael Bartlett previously had runs on Broadway and London’s West End.
The Queen is Dead. Long Live the King?
Directed by Joel Greenberg, King Charles III is an inspired future history play. Set in a time just after the present, the drama begins with the fictional funeral of the current Monarch Queen Elizabeth II, which is followed by the ascension of her son Charles, the current Prince of Wales.
Constitutional Crisis, Straight Ahead!
The plot imagines potential events resulting from the ascension through a Shakespearean lens. Dialogue is in blank verse, replete with long soliloquys. The story centres on the King’s conscientious refusal to sign a bill limiting the freedom of the press. The bill requires the King’s signature to pass into law and the refusal to sign – Charles’ first act as Monarch – throws the political structure into immediate turmoil, dividing the country, parliament and the Royal family. Members of Parliament, we’re led to believe, have never been faced with this form of opposition and the situation raises the question of what power, if any, the Monarch of England actually holds.
Is he a mere silent figurehead or has he the right to protest or lead to change at all?
As the country draws nearer to civil war, what is Charles to do – hold his ground or back down?
Shakespearean Scheming Abounds.
The drama pulls inspiration from the classics, including King Lear, Richard III and Macbeth, placing characters into familiar prototypes – the beleaguered King (Charles, played by David Schurmann), the ungrateful and treacherous offspring (Prince William, played by Jeff Meadows) and the charming rogue (Prince Harry, played by Wade Bogert-O’Brien).
As we know little to nothing about the actual personalities of the Royals, it’s an intriguing idea to cast them into these roles. Camilla, the current Duchess of Cornwall (Rosemary Dunsmore) becomes the sage and supportive wife, while Kate, current Duchess of Cambridge (Shannon Taylor) is imagined as a scheming, ambitious Lady Macbeth type.
The cast and director do an exemplary job and stand out performances are delivered by Schurmann as Charles, and Taylor as Kate.
King Charles III serves to not only present a compelling fiction, but also to raise questions about the state of the British Monarchy and of the United Kingdom itself – questions that are surely on the minds of many Brits with more than 80% of whom have only ever lived under the reign of Elizabeth II. After all, she’s 91 and her more than 65-year reign has to end someday. At that time, Charles, the now 69-year-old heir apparent, will finally begin the job he’s been waiting to start all his life.
How will this play out? And what, if anything, does it matter or mean?
“What am I?” asks Charles at the beginning of the play. “What am I?”
While I’m not sure we find the answer, the two hours and 20 minutes of exploring the question is time indeed well spent. And the CAA Theatre is a great spot to catch this show.
Buy your discounted tickets today and don’t forget to bring your CAA Membership card with you to get instant perks!
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King Charles III runs from February 10 to March 4, 2018 at the CAA Theatre.
© 2017 CAA South Central Ontario
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