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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: Arizona Theatre Company prevails with opening show, ‘King Charles III’

    Courtesy Tim Fuller / Arizona Theatre Company

    Arizona Theatre Company opened for its 50th season on Saturday Sept. 10 with the first preview showing of “King Charles III,” at the Temple of Music and Art in downtown Tucson.

    Written by Mike Bartlett, the play turns its lens on the British monarchy and what might happen to it as power changes hands.

    The play begins with the announcement that reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II has passed away of old age. After living a long life as a beloved public figure, she is to be succeeded by her son, Charles.

    All seems to be going according to plan until the prime minister, Mr. Evans, asks King Charles III to sign a document endorsing a new bill on privacy.

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    The bill essentially limits the freedom of the press in order to protect the privacy of citizens — something King Charles III vehemently opposes. While the United Kingdom has a parliament of elected officials, the royal family still has some political power — power King Charles III uses when he refuses to sign a bill that has been approved by parliament.

    By setting the play in the future, the story takes an interesting spin on traditional British monarchy narratives. It’s interesting to see familiar public figures’ take on issues that may very well arise in the future.

    The dialogue was almost Shakespearean in order to give off the presence of English royalty, but unlike one of Shakespeare’s comedies, histories or dramas,it was never difficult to follow.

    The actors also adopted British accents for the production to further build a monarchical atmosphere. The casting was expertly done and all the principle roles were outstanding. It can be difficult sometimes for actors to accurately represent a character who the audience knows as a public figure, but the cast did so incredibly well.

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    Corey Walter Johnson as Mr. Evans, Dylan Saunders as Prince Harry and Peter Van Norden as King Charles III stole the show, and their performances were nothing short of magnificent.

    The set design was also impeccable. The few set pieces used in each scene were just enough to transport the audience to the grandeur of Buckingham Palace or onto the streets of the City of Westminster. Lighting work was also done in very interesting ways throughout the play.

    Of course, the play was not perfect. There were some odd moments where the dialogue seemed it was trying too hard to feel proper, and all the transition music was British rock or pop. It just didn’t flow well when a tense, dramatic moment was followed by an upbeat rock song.

    However, any artistic work is truly measured by the impact it has on the audience, and the tragedy of “King Charles III” received a standing ovation at its close.

    The play explored the difficulty of facing old age, the changing relationship between a father and son and the struggle of living up to those who came before.

    “King Charles III” is a powerful play with strong themes that had more than a few audience members wiping their eyes at the end.

    Spoiler alert — the end of the play is heartbreaking for all the characters, as they each face a painful reality that they never wished to see. Charles and his sons go through a lot: losing a purpose in life, sacrificing a loved one’s happiness for stability and being denied the chance for a happy ending.

    “King Charles III” isn’t a play that will leave you feeling lighthearted and happy, but rather a play that makes you think and maybe even cry.

    ATC will perform “King Charles III” until Sep. 30 at the Temple of Music and Art. To see a full list of show dates and to purchase tickets, visit the ATC website.

    Student tickets are $10 and regular tickets are $45. 

    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter 

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