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- Tue 20-10-2020 7:00 PM - 2 h 30 m
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- Tue 15-12-2020 7:00 PM - 2 h 30 m
Admission by Drink
Fringe / ESU Play-Reading for Tuesday 21 January 2020
at Colette, Hong Kong Fringe Club
For details and enquiry, please contact Mike Ingham at
King Charles III is a 2014 play in blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameters, the form most commonly used by Shakespeare in his plays) written in contemporary English by British playwright Mike Bartlett (whose Edward Snowden play, Wild, we read in August). It was premiered at the Almeida Theatre, London, in April 2014, and focuses on the accession and reign of King Charles III of the United Kingdom, the probable title of the real Prince of Wales if he becomes king, and the limiting of the freedom of the press after the News International phone-hacking scandal. A 90-minute television adaptation was broadcast on BBC Two on 10 May 2017.
This “future history play”, which won Olivier (UK) and Tony (US) awards, begins with the funeral procession for Britain’s longest-ruling monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Charles, as the new king, then holds his first weekly audience with the Prime Minister, principally discussing a new bill for statutory regulation of the press. The bill has already been passed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and is only awaiting Charles’s royal assent to become law. Charles, however, is concerned that the law places excessive restrictions on the freedom of the press, and refuses to grant his assent.
In a subplot, Prince Harry falls for Jess, an art student with republican convictions. Both Charles and Prince William are visited by the ghost of Princess Diana, who promises each one of them that he will become “the greatest king of all”. The Prime Minister holds a crisis meeting with the Leader of the Opposition over the press bill, and then threatens to pass a new law bypassing the royal assent, but Charles uses his royal prerogative to dissolve Parliament. Protests break out around the country. Charles increases the armed guard at Buckingham Palace, offers his protection to Jess (whom the media have made the centre of a sex scandal), and agrees to Harry’s wish to become a commoner. Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, presents a way forward: William should offer himself as a mediator between Parliament and his father. When William announces this at a press conference without his father’s knowledge and consent, Charles reacts angrily, seeing it as a betrayal, but ultimately the king finds himself forced to abdicate in favour of William, who will sign the press bill and restore the status quo between crown and Parliament.
The play, which won rave reviews in the UK, was adapted for BBC television in 2017 and was also broadcast in the US. Tim Pigott-Smith, the accomplished British actor who played Charles in both the stage play and the television version, sadly passed away last year.
Facilitators: Mike Ingham and Julian Quail
Some YouTube clips of Charles III to give play-readers a better idea of the play:
All attendees are kindly reminded that you should not bring your own food and drink to consume on the Fringe Club premises. Refreshments are available at the Fringe Club.