King Charles III, Shakespearean Fantasia on U.K. Political Future, Heading to TV

News   King Charles III, Shakespearean Fantasia on U.K. Political Future, Heading to TV
BBC and Masterpiece have announced plans to adapt Mike Bartlett’s dark fantasia on the future of Britain’s monarchy—and the state of the country—for television.
Tim Pigott-Smith in King Charles III Joan Marcus

After playing acclaimed runs in London and New York, Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III, a darkly comic futuristic verse play that imagines what would occur if Prince Charles were to ascend the throne, will make its way to the screen.

According to Deadline, PBS Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton revealed plans for the television adaptation July 28. It is expected to premiere on PBS Masterpiece in 2017.

King Charles III will be a co-production between BBC and Masterpiece, with Bartlett on board to adapt his script, which was originally commissioned by the play’s stage director, Rupert Goold, who will again direct for television.

A modern riff on Shakespeare’s history plays with echoes of Hamlet and Macbeth, Bartlett crafted the play in verse and iambic pentameter, employing many of the same Elizabethan-era stage devices used to depict off-stage action and the passage of time.

Through a mix of introspective monologues and theatrical pageantry, the play begins with the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the ascension of Charles, Prince of Wales to the throne. When the monarchy exerts its power after a conflict arises with the British government, the country, and the royal family, are thrown into chaos.

Critics praised Bartlett’s daring ability to firmly ground the play and its characters in the pop culture, paparazzi-hunted, media hungry “now.” Princess Diana’s ghost haunts the proceedings as Camilla Parker Bowles, Princes William and Harry, along with Kate Middleton, make calculated plays for the throne.

Billed as a “future history play,” Bartlett’s dystopian depiction of Britain’s future will no doubt resonate with viewers in the wake of Brexit, a referendum in which the country voted to leave the European Union.

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