A willful king ... a prophetic ghost ... family betrayals ... revenge! It sounds like a play by Shakespeare, but it’s a drama about the future. Masterpiece presents an adaptation of the Tony®-nominated hit Broadway show King Charles III, starring the late Tim Pigott-Smith as Prince Charles after his accession to the throne, sometime in the years ahead.
Daringly scripted in blank verse by Bartlett (Doctor Foster, Doctor Who) and directed by Rupert Goold (The Hollow Crown), King Charles III focuses on the crisis-strewn transition of power after the eventual death of Queen Elizabeth II, currently the longest-serving monarch in British history. For his part, Charles is the longest heir-in-waiting ever, and Bartlett envisions the turmoil that rocks the monarchy when his turn finally comes.
Watch King Charles III on Masterpiece May 14 at 9:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS. Check listings for additional air-times.
Also starring are Oliver Chris (Breathless) as Charles’s heir, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge; Charlotte Riley (In the Heart of the Sea, Peaky Blinders) as William’s bride, Kate; Richard Goulding (Ripper Street) as Charles’s younger son, Prince Harry; Tamara Lawrance (Undercover) as Harry’s love interest and self-proclaimed revolutionary, Jess Edwards; Margot Leicester (MI-5) as Charles’s doting wife, Camilla; and Adam James (Grantchester, Doctor Foster) as the polished British prime minister, Tristan Evans.
Shakespeare lovers will detect echoes of Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, and Henry IV, among other of the Bard’s works. They will also revel in the rhythmic music of blank verse—unrhymed iambic pentameter—which captures the natural flow of the English language and which Elizabethan dramatists helped popularize, revived by Bartlett to startling effect.
“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” That piece of blank verse is from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part II, and it perfectly portrays the hero’s quandary in King Charles III.