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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, Important and Wildly Entertaining, 20 May 2014
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It's rare that plays come along that feel sort of special. But Bartlett has written something which does, well, feel sort of very special indeed.

It's special in that, through a plot imagining Charles' ascension leading to his immediate clash with parliament, it's a perfect balance between entertainment, fun and wit while still managing to hit home hard emotionally and support a powerful commentary on the monarchy's position in society today. Bartlett justifiably suggests the power of monarchy in the modern world goes hand in hand with the celebrity, demonstrating this through the world-famous brand of Wills & Kate. As well as this, Bartlett explores the pointless tradition of monarchy in modern politics, showing how little power is really held by the crown even when they try to make a move. And taking Charles as a figure of action in comparison to the Queen's stasis is both bold and shocking, with Charles' public profile generally presented as one of a gentler, more traditional figure.

But, while the commentary on monarchy is strong and interesting, what makes Barlett's writing especially special, and accounts for most of the entertaining wit of the play, is his mock-Shakespearean style. Bartlett uses Shakespeare's language, structure and plots to underline his own points. For instance, Harry's eagerness to leave the royal lifestyle is demonstrated by his language being predominantly prose, unlike his family who speak in blank verse; just as Shakespeare used prose to highlight the commoners and blank verse nobility. The Harry plotline also evokes that of Prince Hal in Henry IV and Barlett uses other plays to clearly demonstrate character, such as Will and Kate steadily mirroring the scheming Macbeths or ghosts haunting characters, like Hamlet. Working in Shakespeare's style, and sticking to his style so strictly, means Bartlett is able to pull off a bold choice and make it work. It could read as ridiculous, but he uses this trick magnificently.

Ultimately, that is what King Charles III is as a play. It toes the line of failing due simply to its very bold, almost silly, concept. But Bartlett's ability and sincere use of Shakespearean style, coupled with a genuinely interesting exploration of commentary, means that this play works. And it works beautifully.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A republican applauds, LOUDLY., 29 April 2015
Mr. G. Morgan "wes" (Haywards Heath, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: King Charles III (NHB Modern Plays) (Kindle Edition)
Correctly garlanded at 2015 Olivier's as best new play - quite an accolade when that year includes 'The Nether' - this gem shows Barlett returning to the longer play after trying very short pieces lately. It is a triumph, the more so as he takes large risks, the most obvious being the bold decision to invite comparisons with Shakespeare by writing in blank verse; also there are echoes of the Bard in the spectral Diana, drifting through as Charles worries. The play begins with Charles acceding to the throne, but frustrating the Prime Minister by refusing the Royal Assent to a Bill, ensuring a constitutional crisis. Throw in a decent young William and a surprisingly assertive, self-knowing Kate, each prepared to use their popularity in the media as leverage; a sympathetic hooray of a Harry-cum-Hal and you have all the ingredients of a romp. In fact there is too much pathos for that, and even a republican such as me could feel for Charles in his lonely stand for principle, with the Shakespearean echoes giving it gravitas. Choc full of comic gems: Harry slumming it with his working class girlfriend; an amusingly gloomy Harry being Marje Proops'd by a kebab seller who makes a memorable speech about British identity using his doner slicing as illustration; a slippery Opposition leader and a smooth, ambitious Tory; a clever aide to the new King and you have an instant classic. Worth its place on the 'A' level curriculum instantly, preferably alongside a History play by the Swan of Avon. There, and I haven't resorted to a Spoiler! About the denouement I shall say nothing but it's worthy of a fine play, as good as Bartlett has ever done. An instant classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars funny and fantastically entertaining, 15 Aug. 2014
M. Taylor (UK) - See all my reviews
Bartlett is a genius. I am yet to read one of his plays that isn't thought-provoking, funny and fantastically entertaining. This is an all too believable satire on the succession of the monarchy that, without giving anything away, is filmic in its dialogue. Sadly never got to see the production but see the whole thing play out in my head through the sheer quality of the writing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful "what if"--written in the style of Shakespeare's histories, 20 July 2014
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A wonderful "what if"--written in the style of Shakespeare's histories. I hope it comes to the U.S. because I'd enjoy seeing it performed.
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King Charles III (NHB Modern Plays)
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