King Charles III – Manchester Opera House – Review

Kate Middleton is a babe. We’ve known this since the royal wedding when she made us all feel like scruffy trashbags because she’s classy as eff. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that, in seeing the play King Charles III at Manchester’s Opera House, I’d be seeing Kate immortalised on stage…

I wish I could say that Kate wasn’t the only thing I enjoyed about the show, but I can’t, and I feel so bad about it, because it was beautifully written and presented, but it just wasn’t for me. In essence, I mean that.

As a play it was great. Dramatic and visually impressive, it tugged at the heart strings and evoked giggles from the crowd… But I was bored. Usually shows fly by in 10 minutes and leave me gagging for more, but King Charles III dragged on and I was super relieved when it finished.

I think, though, it’s because it wasn’t written for me. Written for people like me. People from my working class kind of background who have bigger fish to fry in their lives than worrying about who’s wearing the crown. Broad statement, but I’m on the other side of the social divide.

It was a very British, white, middle class play about the monarchy – which I have very little affection for. The Prime Minister kept popping up, too, whinging about passing some privacy law and he was super irritating.

The Leader of the Opposition was in the show also, and posh Oxbridge boys making jokes about Harry falling in love with a ‘commoner’. Blah.

A couple of my friends tweeted at me about the show, saying it was their favourite and the best play they’d ever seen, and I was kind of befuddled as to why. But in hindsight I realised that the show involves the background that they’re from. Don’t get me wrong, I hold no resentment for it, but that’s just the environment and culture they were brought up in.

I was actually excited to see Camilla on stage – I love Camilla just because she’s generally awful and when she got poked with a stick it was well funny – but she was there just for Charles to ignore or pass a comment about William and Harry’s behaviours. Yawn.

I understand that some wives are perfectly happy to support their husbands but Charles made some super poor decisions and I had no sympathy for him when he was upset or feeling shunned by his family or Parliament. Yet Camilla had his back all the way though. I know he was technically king but he was still wrong.

You may be thinking, ‘Why did you go see a play about the royal family if you don’t care about the monarchy?’ And honestly, subconsciously, I’m thinking the same.

I expected it to be satirical. It’s about Charles ascending to the throne when Lizzie pops her clogs, so of course you’d hope it would somewhat put a smile on your face. But it was really serious and full of Charles battling his inner demons and wanting to live up to the Queen’s standards.

It was also completely full of self-doubting soliloquies. Every five minutes, he was monologuing and I was like, ‘C’mon son, pull yourself together. If you don’t want to agree with Parliament, that’s fine. You have a backbone, but the answer isn’t to dissolve Parliament and then sit pondering for 10 minutes if parking a tank in front of Buckingham Palace is a good idea. What’re you playing at, pal?’

Oh, and then Diana’s ghost floated across the stage, providing some voice of reason or hope. What the eff?

I think me and my friend were the youngest people in the theatre and I think there’s good reason for it. My grandma would probably have loved King Charles III.

I was fighting back Zs at one point. Usually at these shows, we get the ‘celebs’ like Corrie stars and Hollyoaks actors in the audience, but the two famous people I spotted in the theatre were Edwina Curry and one of the Hairy Bikers, which perfectly reflects the play’s target audience.

I thought the guy in the seat in front of me had been dragged along by his wife at one point because he was kinda slumped. But then 10 minutes later he had a stroke or something and had to be helped out of the theatre by three people, and that isn’t even a joke – it really happened!

All I’ve done is complain about King Charles III, and I’m not usually a negative person. I’m not saying it was bad, because it wasn’t. It was great – if you’re not me or a working class realist like me.

My MVP was definitely Kate Middleton. Jennifer Bryden played the Duchess of Cambridge, and even though she only referred to William when she was talking directly to him as ‘future king’ or ‘husband’, which seemed blindly grandiose, she completely dominated the stage with her presence and booming totes-posh voice.

She also gave this fricking boss ass speech about feminism and the place that men put women in high society. I was rooting for her from my seat. I wanted to stand up and clap when she’d finished but Will came on stole the moment. She was the cast member that gripped me. Snaps for Jennifer.

In conclusion, if you like the monarchy and the royal family, you have an interest in their effect on Parliament, and you’re over 45-ish, you’d probably love this show.

If you do like any of those things or you have a penchant for powerful British accents and public scandal that nobody actually cares about except the royal family and historians, I highly recommend seeing this show.

It’s currently touring and you can get your tickets and see where it’s showing on the ATG website.

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