South Africa, 2019. Twenty-five years since the first post-apartheid democratic elections, two men from contrasting walks of life are thrust together to reflect on a quarter century of change.
Jack Morris, a white classical actor, has just been offered the chance to play King Lear – an illustrious role to crown an acclaimed career. He accepts and begins his preparations, only to be diagnosed with liver cancer.
Discharging himself from hospital and determined to live long enough to play Lear, he finds himself under the care of Lunga Kunene, a black nurse from Soweto who must find a way to tend to this belligerent but vulnerable old trouper.
Examining the history and contemporary culture of South Africa from both sides of the racial divide, John Kani’s play Kunene and the King is a tense two-hander told on a Shakespearean scale.
Kunene and the King, by the South African actor, activist and playwright John Kani, was premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in March 2019, performed by Antony Sher and the author. It was a co-production with The Fugard Theatre, Cape Town, where it transferred in April 2019.