Wednesday, October 12, 2016

reviews - KING CHARLES, III - Arizona Theatre Company

Adam Haas Hunter, Peter Van Norden, Dylan Saunders, and Kate Maher Hyland
Photo: Jeff Smith
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through October 23rd .

"...In the not too distant future, what if Queen Elizabeth ll suddenly died and the crown finally passed to Charles, Prince of Wales, now aged somewhere in his early seventies?...in Arizona Theatre Company’s production of Mike Barlett’s highly heralded play King Charles lll... This king not only rocks the boat, he practically runs it aground....though the required ceremonial coronation is still to come, Charles (Peter Van Norden) immediately asserts the duties of Sovereignty. “I am the king default and I will ascend,” he declares. Within moments of the setting transitioning from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace, the king holds his first weekly audience with the Prime Minister (Corey Walter Johnson). What should be a formality of paper signing doesn’t end well....The staging is set, the characters are established; let the conflicts begin. There’s a slight moment of adjustment when first realizing that Van Norden’s Charles is not the Charles we believe we know...you immediately realize that everything else that follows will probably be different. And you’d be right.
After meeting South Londoner art student and anti-royalist, Jessica (Jeanne Syquia), Prince Harry (Dylan Saunders) momentarily tastes life as a regular bloke...On the other hand, Prince William (Adam Haas Hunter) fully embraces his royal role. With the surprising connivance of Kate (Kate Maher Hyland) William positions himself as mediator between his father the king and the government. ...The 2014 award-winning and Tony nominated comic/drama is one written in blank verse. Imagine finding a long lost Shakesperean history play...then updating the setting to present day London...The American cast and its variations of English accents are what you have come to expect from the high Broadway standards of production and performance from Arizona Theatre Company. Director Matt August has delivered a handsome looking production. As for Barlett’s play; it’s a good one, and on reflection, as you later ponder its surprises, its language, its rhythm, and its creative take on the royals, you should consider it a great on" -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

" Mike Bartlett's exceptional drama King Charles III portrays the potential aftereffects of the death of Queen Elizabeth as if it were a Shakespearean tragedy. Arizona Theatre Company presents the Arizona premiere of this Olivier Award winning Best New Play....with a stellar cast and astute direction that result in an evocative and intriguing production....While the majority of characters are the beloved Royal family, Bartlett doesn't paint the Royals in the exact same shade most of us are familiar with seeing. Thus, Charles isn't exactly as conservative as we might believe and Kate Middleton is portrayed as a somewhat calculating observer who learns how to make the most out of a tight situation. Set in the period immediately after Queen Elizabeth's death but before Prince Charles' confirmation, Bartlett has written his play in the style of a Shakespeare history play. The plot depicts how a confrontation between Charles and the Prime Minister over limiting the freedom of the press sets in motion a series of events that pit father against son, brother against brother, conservative verses liberal, and the monarchy against Parliament. While Bartlett's style of prose evokes Shakespeare in both the use of blank verse, references to some of his most famous plays, elements (such as ghosts), and familiar Shakespearean archetypes, it is incredibly accessible and easy to understand. It is also exceptionally entertaining and intriguing. ATC's excellent cast is led by Peter Van Norden as Charles. Bartlett has written Charles on the level of some of Shakespeare's greatest leads and Van Norden is sensational in showing the multi-faceted and thoughtful nature of this well-known and incredibly proud man who acts with his conscious. As his two sons William and Harry, Adam Haas Hunter and Dylan Saunders, respectively, deliver well-shaded portrayals that present these conflicted princes...Kate Maher Hyland does well in presenting Kate Middleton as both the charming, beloved and outgoing woman we have all seen on TV as well as the newest member of the Royals who learns how to serve as a cunning mediator in order to acutely position herself for success. Jeanne Syquia is vibrant and full of life as Jess, a fictional commoner whom Harry meets and falls head over heels for...As Charles' wife Camilla, Cathy Dresbach is energetic and fiery, yet also full of warmth and charm....With an unrushed pace that allows us to be drawn into the play and a cast who deliver clear and concise portrayals, Matt August's direction is exceptional...Mike Bartlett's King Charles III is a poetic and provoking drama that poses the question of what the role of the monarchy should be in modern politics. ATC's production has a gifted cast and skilled direction with a performance from Peter Van Norden as Charles that is superb. It is a play and a production that will linger in your mind for a long time." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

COMING SOON --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"....with “King Charles III.” Not only does (Bartlett) hazard to imagine the inner lives of British royals who are... not dead yet, but he dares to add a coda to the canon of the greatest of all literary giants, William Shakespeare. A future-history play written in blank verse — that’s unrhymed but rhythmical poetry, for anyone who slept through ninth-grade English — “Charles” was a hit on the West End of London in 2014 and on Broadway the next year, and now it is kicking off the 50th season of Arizona Theatre Company. The production....is excellent...And the acting is great ...Peter Van Norden carries much of the Shakespearean weight of the play in a surprisingly tender turn in the title role of Charles, the current Prince of Wales...Bartlett’s concerns as a playwright are very much those of Shakespeare himself: the getting and keeping of power and the role of kings in the history and character of Britain. To underline the point, he plays with familiar Bardic tropes ....King Charles....emerges as an enormously sympathetic figure....Bartlett’s uses of blank verse....is deft and engaging, and so is his entire neo-Shakespearean project. The same goes for the keen direction of Matt August...It is all, one must say, veddy veddy British, and one must have an interest in Shakespeare, or at least in the royal family, to get much out of it. Happily, that describes vast swaths of the theatergoing public, which makes “King Charles III,” if not a play for the ages, one that makes the present moment memorably vivid. "Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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