Exit the King at National Theatre - Olivier tickets
Exit the King at National Theatre - Olivier tickets

Exit the King has closed

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About the show

‘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.

Recommended for

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!

Age Recommendations: No under 5's

Dates and times

Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes (without an interval)
Opened: 17 Jul 2018
Press night: 25 Jul 2018
Booking from: 06 Oct 2018
Booking until: 06 Oct 2018

Location and map

National Theatre - Olivier
National Theatre, Upper Ground
London, SE1 9PX

22 Reviews Add review

Great, and Rhys Ifans in particular, was incredible.

Britgoddess 5'6, 16 reviews, 0 helpful votes

alexandert3 40 reviews, 0 helpful votes

alexandert3 40 reviews, 0 helpful votes

This was a strange and nonsensical show which I have to say I just didn't really see the point of. The acting was great and the set... More

emilydiver 5"0, 292 reviews, 15 helpful votes

A bit bonkers but quite fun - I went with a friend but I probably wouldn't have gone otherwise.

mssmittenkitten 5'10, 92 reviews, 6 helpful votes

Thoroughly enjoyable. Quirky, fun and very different to recent plays I've seen at the National Theatre.

oliviabeanland 5"7, 30 reviews, 1 helpful vote

I found this play disappointing. I could tell the actors were giving it their all but it felt all over the place. The script could... More

LondonLass 5"1, 248 reviews, 14 helpful votes

bowerhe 5'6, 44 reviews, 1 helpful vote

Unfortunately, this show didn't work for me. It felt very flat and at 1 hour 40 mins long it felt a lot longer. I still have no idea... More

joc78 5"4, 435 reviews, 7 helpful votes