Studio 180 and Mirvish presents King Charles III, on stage in Toronto until March 4 2018
Mirvish presents the Studio 180 production of King Charles III to the newly rebranded CAA Theatre (formerly the Panasonic Theatre). This production saw sold out crowds on Broadway and London’s West End, and will likely cause waves in Toronto. The story takes a look at what could be for our beloved British royals in this future history play written by Mike Bartlett and directed by Joel Greenberg.
The Queen is dead and Charles, the “King in Waiting”, ascends the throne. While attempting to assert the power of the crown, he defies an age-old tradition, sending the country into turmoil.
This play of political intrigue, written in a Shakespearean style language, follows the lives of Charles (David Schurmann), Camilla (Rosemary Dunsmore), William (Jeff Meadows), Kate (Shannon Taylor), and Harry (Wade Robert-O’Brien) immediately following the funeral of the late Queen. Without waiting for the pomp and circumstance of a coronation, Charles quickly ascends to the throne, as Great Britain cannot go without a leader for too long. As a new bill relating to publishable material in print media makes its way through Parliament to land on the desk of King Charles III, Charles makes a daring and surprising move that overrules Parliament.
The language in King Charles III may take a bit to get used to and can be a bit unusual in a modern setting, but it flows together with the story beautifully. What I do love about how this production comes together is how revealing these characters become throughout. I found myself particularly mesmerized with Taylor’s portrayal of Kate. I don’t know much about the British Royals beyond what I occasionally see of their public persona on television. Kate Middleton always comes off as demure and reserved, definitely not the compelling, outspoken, and akin to Lady Macbeth — as my guest Wayne put it — future Queen as she is portrayed here, who is a driving force throughout the narrative.
I also quite enjoyed Robert-O’Brien’s portrayal of Prince Harry. In King Charles III, Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle has ended and he has become smitten with a common art student Jess (Jessica Greenberg), who’s a radical activist that despises the monarchy and has a bit of a sordid past. That past comes back to haunt her in the media when Harry’s affection for her grows stronger. Robert-O’Brien’s role here is a breath of youthful and rebellious fresh air, and he plays a man who was born into a world of luxury as a “spare” very well.
The staging is simplistic yet beautiful and effective. A riser at center stage is the only bit that is static throughout. Each scene starts and ends with tables and chairs being added or removed. Creative use of lighting by designer Kevin Fraser, shadows, and sound effects by Thomas Ryder Payne provide the backdrop of the scene as either within the palace walls or out on the streets. The vastness of the stage at the CAA Theatre at times felt just right for certain scenes and at other times came off as engulfing. Wayne said he would prefer this story set in a more intimate theatre, and I’m inclined to agree.
The large stage also required all actors to be microphoned, which lead to a few audio issues near the beginning — fabric rustling, unmatched volume, and distinctive static became very apparent but was ironed out in due time.
King Charles III is one unique and certainly entertaining show to watch and opens room for dialogue about freedom or press and the stress and influence of the monarchy. I had a great time at the show and I’m sure you will, too.
- King Charles III is playing at the CAA Theatre (651 Yonge St, formerly the Panasonic Theatre) until March 4, 2018.
- Performances run Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm with matinees on Wednesdays at 1:30 pm and weekends at 2:00 pm.
- Tickets range from $39 – $79, promo codes and group rates are available.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by calling (416) 872-1212, or in person at the box office.
- Run Time: 2 hours 20 minutes with intermission
- Audience Advisory: This performance contains strong language and theatrical haze, suitable for ages 15 and older.
Photo of Jeff Meadows, Shannon Taylor, Rosemary Dunsmore and David Schurmann provided by the company