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Exit the King Tickets

National Theatre - Olivier

Patrick Marber (Don Juan in Soho) directs Eugene Ionesco’s Exit the King, starring Rhys Ifans, Adrian Scarborough and Indira Varma. A thrilling tragi-comedy, the absurdist play sees Queens preparing for the death of their King and marks the first time an Ionesco play has been performed at the National Theatre.

‘The king is dead. Long live the king.’

Patrick Marber (Don Juan in Soho) directs a star-studded cast in Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist tragi-comedy Exit the King. Marking the first time an Ionesco play has been staged at the National Theatre, the production plays a limited season at the Olivier Theatre.

Eugene Ionesco, leader of the avant-garde movement and famed for his absurdist theatre, went through a period of his life when he feared imminent death. Inspired by this episode of ill health, he wrote Exit the King, the story of a dying King Berenger refusing to come to terms with his fate.

The 400-year-old king is stroppy and stubborn as his kingdom falls apart around him. His first wife tries to prepare for the realities of his death, whilst his second wife insists he will survive.

Rhys Ifans stars as the King, after catapulting to fame in film Notting Hill and most recently appearing on stage in the Old Vic’s A Christmas Carol. Further casting includes Indira Varma (Game of Thrones, Rome), Adrian Scarborough (Don Juan in Soho), Debra Gillet, Sarah Campbell, Derek Griffiths and Amy Morgan.

Patrick Marber directs his new adaptation of the play, which features design by Anthony Ward, lighting design by Hugh Vanstone, music and sound design by Adam Cork and movement by Naomi Said. Marber is well-known for writing plays including Dealer’s Choice, Closer and After Miss Julie, as well as adapting Don Juan in Soho and directing recent productions of Travesties and The Caretaker.

Ionesco is best-known for plays including Rhinoceros, The Chairs and more. A thrilling and dark play that’s given a contemporary twist, Exit the King runs at the National’s Olivier Theatre for a strictly limited season, from 17 July to 8 September 2018, with a press night on 25 July 2018.

Sorry this show closed 06 October 2018, we recommend these similar productions.

A View From the Bridge
Fawlty Towers
The Constituent
Performance dates:
06 Oct 2018 - 06 Oct 2018
Running time:
1 hour and 40 minutes.
Age recommendation:
No under 5's
Audience Notes:
Adaptations of modern classics are always interesting to contemporary theatregoers and although Ionesco is an essential part of the theatrical cannon, his work isn’t often seen in Britain. Don’t miss out on a chance to see his work on stage!

Exit the King Reviews

21 Reviews
  • 5 Stars19%
  • 4 Stars19%
  • 3 Stars14%
  • 2 Stars43%
  • 1 Stars5%

User Reviews


Great, and Rhys Ifans in particular, was incredible.

Performance date: 04 September 2018
Performance date: 17 July 2018
Performance date: 17 July 2018
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