Burning Coal Theatre, Raleigh
7:30 p.m. Thu.–Sat./2 p.m. Sun., $15–$25 www.burningcoal.org
Britons beware. Should the scenario in Mike Bartlett’s “future history” play, King Charles III, hold water, the political and civil upheaval awaiting the scepter’d isle after the death of its current leader could well place America’s current divisiveness in deep shade. At the outset of the Olivier-Award-winning 2014 script, Queen Elizabeth II is dead and the new monarch, Charles, the current Prince of Wales, faces a threat to his rule after Parliament passes a bill limiting freedom of the press in the wake of an incident similar to the phone-hacking scandal that sank London’s News of the World in 2011. Charles signals his intent to be more than a ceremonial king when he refuses to sign the bill, a move that triggers a governmental showdown. The twist? Bartlett tells this Shakespearean tale of royal leadership, conscience, and intrigue conspicuously in the Stratford bard’s style: in blank verse, with soliloquies, extended metaphors, and all the trimmings.