Wednesday, May 31, 2017

King Charles III

What might be: King Charles III, a meta play

As readers of this blog might have already guessed I’m intrigued by meta literature. One reason I’ve also been loving McSweeney’s lately. It’s a sort of meta comedy or satire when a journal decides to run Trump’s Black History Month speech in its entirety—as humor.

The whole meta thing seems to fit into what’s going on right now. I mean a reality TV star becomes president. He says something is fake or declares suddenly top-secret intel is now declassified. Climate change is a hoax, as also is his campaigns involvement with Russia. Up is down and down is up. When people talk about surreal, then I immediately think they’re talking about this administration.

I’ve told a few close friends this: I grew up with an illogical mother. It was hard on a day to day basis to ever know what she might do. One might think it was a mother/daughter thing—I know I tried to believe this—but through the years I saw that at times her thinking was disordered, irrational. I was at a loss. There was no talking to her or redirecting. Lately I’ve been feeling again this powerlessness.

King Charles III is a 2014 play in blank verse by Mike Bartlett about the current Prince of Wales and what MIGHT happen when the present Queen Elizabeth passes away. But the characters are Shakespearean, driven by their own greed for power, palace intrigue, and morally conflicted by passion and loyalty. In the midst of this tele-play Diana makes an appearance as a midnight ghost. She is lovely.

I wonder home the Royal Family received this play. Let’s just say Kate Middleton who in the tabloids appears to us as a wonderful girl who has provided an heir and wears her clothes beautifully comes across in King Charles III as complex, layered, a bit of a bitch. Will is able to be swayed, Charles rises to the occasion and beyond, Harry is on the surface the playboy, but underneath torn between loyalty to his family and the idea of a monarchy. My favorite line—again with echoes here of the stereotype Charles has been portrayed as—“will I go back in the public’s eye to the doddering gardener?”

The play plays with us. The media and the public—in fact the characters turn to us, the audience, to address us. At one point Kate Middleton looks straight into the camera and says: You don’t know me.

This is the type of playwriting that I think today’s audience I captivated by. We are now so jaded by reality that meta material is readily accepted. We are now able to watch ourselves watch ourselves—wondering how it will all turn out.


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