Mike Bartlett's play "King Charles III"—directed by Michael Michetti— takes a look at Charles' first days as king. After the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, Charles is named king, and immediately forced to make some tough decisions. Peppered with Shakespeare-inspired soliloquies that give the audience a peek into the minds of these elusive characters, this play questions the role of the Royals, and whether they should be allowed to be their own people or merely serve as figureheads of tradition.
This play also brings up interesting questions about what we are willing to sacrifice in order to maintain some sense of self. For Charles, his desire to make his name and his reign mean something costs him it all. His struggle forces us to look at moments in our own lives when we've refused to change and what we have lost due to pride.
Jim Abele carries the show as Charles, whose pride may cost him everything he's waited for. He exposes Charles' stubbornness, yet gives us a peek at his gentler side as well. J Paul Boehmer is a stern Prime Minister, and Carie Kawa is a bit conniving as his counterpart, Stevens. Dylan Saunders and Adam Haas Hunter play the handsome yet wildly different royal Princes. Saunders nails Prince Harry's restlessness and dissatisfaction with royal life, while Hunter juxtaposes him as the responsible Prince William. And as for the women in their lives, Meghan Andrews plays a headstrong Kate—wife of William— who refuses to be a passive future Queen, and USC alumna Sarah Hollis shines as Jess, a common girl who shows Harry the beauty in life beyond palace walls.
Alex Jaeger's costume design beautifully matches the Royals' style of tasteful and conservative. David Meyer's set utilizes the theatre space, and even unexpectedly—but smartly— integrates the audience. The show kicks off with original music by Peter Bayne, and mood is set—primarily during the riot scene—with warm lighting by Elizabeth Harper.
"King Charles III" will be playing until December 3rd. Price — $25 – $96. Online — PasadenaPlayhouse.org, by phone at 626-356- 7529 In person — Pasadena Playhouse Box Office, located at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101