A deluded king. A failing kingdom. Two squabbling queens vying for his attention. An obsequious doctor. A dim-witted but loyal guard and a mouthy servant. In Eugene Ionesco’s darkly comic masterpiece we witness the final hours of megalomaniac King Berenger the First. His monstrous ego has kept him alive for four centuries, but now, Queen Marguerite calmly informs him, the time has come to die. His kingdom begins to collapse around him — the seas rise, nature rebels, crops wither, the young flee, the old fail, foreign enemies close in. Berenger rages, pleads, denies, bargains, supported by the lovely and loyal Queen Marie. But Queen Marguerite, coolly efficient, aided by her smiling henchman, the doctor, draws the king relentlessly closer to his final moment on earth. At once broadly comic and deeply unsettling, the play alternates between Monty Python-style slapstick and haunting echoes of Shakespearean tragedy. In this, the most Beckett-like of all Ionesco’s work, we follow an existential journey into the most terrifying landscape of all: our own mortality. In a new translation by City Garage founders Frederique Michel and Charles Duncombe.
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