Powell shines in unmissable production

Robert Powell is starring in King Charles III
Robert Powell is starring in King Charles III

The Queen, no stranger to the records book, added another one to her collection last month when she became the UK’s longest reigning monarch after 63 years on the throne, writes Tony Spittles.

This milestone saw her serving for 23,226 days, surpassing the record set by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, who died in 1901.

But what of the future? That’s the premise for the award-winning production of King Charles III, billed as a “future history play,” now on at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until this Saturday.

Mike Bartlett’s royal drama proved a premiere sellout at the Almeida Theatre in April last year, later transferring to the West End, as he posed the question of power, politics and privilege as Prince Charles ascends the throne on the death of Queen Elizabeth.

The London production saw Tim Pigott-Smith as the new King, a role now taken by Robert Powell as this royal pageant criss-crosses the country on an extensive UK tour ahead of a run on the New York stage.

But while venues change, the play’s central core remains the same as the new King Charles is confronted with an agonising dilemma - he’s asked to give his assent to a new law that so tightly safeguards privacy it seems to threaten press freedom and democracy itself.

The new King’s refusal to sign this Act of Parliament leads into a head-on collision with the Republican-leaning Labour Prime Minister Mr Evans (Tim Treloar) who is determined it should become law.

Any support from the Conservative opposition, led by Mr Stevens (Giles Taylor), wavers, so battlelines are drawn between the Monarchy and Parliament, watched by the public at large.

Interspersed between the politicking are some royal insider gems bordering on the nearly real to the fantastical. They include a wayward Prince Harry (played in superb fashion by Richard Glaves) wanting to leave The Family and finding out the real meaning of life and love from a kebab shop worker; the ghost of Princess Diana (Beatrice Walker) haunting King Charles, and Prince William (Ben Righton) showing wisdom above his age as he tries to mediate and get his father to abdicate to solve the stand-off with Parliament and bring an end to civil unrest around the country.

In the title role, all-rounder Robert Powell, equally at home on stage, the big screen or on TV, carried his regal role with a mesmerising and memorable performance that did justice to a play which he regards as a masterpiece and one that no actor would want to ignore.

The women “behind the throne” were also represented with a supportive Camilla (Penelope Beaumont); Prince William’s feisty wife, Kate (Jennifer Bryden) who seemed to have a new take on resolving the State crisis, and Jess (Lucy Phelps) as Prince Harry’s on-off “girlfriend” from the wrong side of town.

Further news of showtimes for this not-to-be missed production, and ticket prices, £17.50 to £34.50, please contact the Box Office on 0115 9895555, or check the website at www.trch.co.uk