Das Unvermeidliche ist geschehen: Queen Elizabeth II hat das Zeitliche gesegnet und ihr Sohn steht in den Startlöchern, zum König gekrönt zu werden: Charles III. Mike Bartletts Drama verbindet die privaten Konflikte eines Monarchen mit politischen Ereignissen und kontrastiert den „Glamour“ der royalen Familie mit der Frage nach der Legitimität der Monarchie. Dabei beleuchtet es kritisch die Manipulationen, mit denen gewählte Volksvertreter politische Fakten schaffen. Typisch britisch: anspruchsvolles Thema und beste Unterhaltung zugleich.
History repeats itself. This is what Mike Bartlett is betting on when he wrote“King Charles III“, a play based on the British Monarchy set in the future. The Bremer Shakespeare Company hosts the German première of this fascinating and breathtaking script.
The play starts with the funeral of the present monarch and the long awaited accession to power of prince Charles (who is over 70 years old). The new King is immediately asked by the Prime Minister to sign a bill restricting the freedom of the press. The bill has already passed in the House of Commons and the House of Lords and awaits only the royal assent by Charles. He refuses to give royal assent because he is concerned the law and would allow governments to censor the news and prevent legitimate press coverage of abuse of power by the government. In order to protect the press, who is ironically unsympathetic toward the King and the royal family, he dissolves Parliament thereby starting a constitutional storm that rips the country in two.
Shakespearean themes weave in and out of the play like a favorite family heirloom. If you are familiar with Shakespeare’s work you will chuckle knowingly as The Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William’s wife Kate) gives her soliloquy à la Lady Macbeth, or as Prince Harry is very much seen (and acts) like the family clown and how Princess Diana, that mysterious and beautiful woman, continues to haunt her tired and privileged family.
The play is brilliantly written with attention to tempo. The second half seems to rush by at lightning speed leaving the audience breathless. Although the play revolves around one person: King Charles III, it is in all respects an ensemble play. Each character forces the plot to charge forward. Perhaps Mike Bartlett’s process writing the play, using actors to speak and work through the subject matter, accomplished this. This fascinating process can be read about in detail here.
How good does my German need to be to enjoy this show?
On a scale from 1-5 with 1=beginning German speaker, 5=like a native speaker.
As with any German play that you attempt to enjoy as a non-native, I suggest you do a little research before attending the show. The Guardian has some fascinating articles about the play. I also suggest reading the above-mentioned article about how Mike wrote the play. BBC Two made a TV version of the play, and Wikipedia has a general synopsis of the play. Coming armed with a general idea of what the play is about will help a non-native speaker at level 3 and higher relax and enjoy the show.
English text an German comprehension rating by Linnea George-Kupfer.