The Apple Cart

Definition

Theater

  • A political comedy by George Bernard Shaw, first performedin 1929 in Warsaw and given its British premiere at that year's MalvernFestival. The leading role of King Magnus, which is longer thanHamlet's, was written for Cedric Hardwicke. In 1986 Peter O'Tooleplayed Magnus in a memorable revival.

    Set in England in 1962, the play discusses the relationshipbetween the monarchy and elected government and examines the moralityof party politics. At the time critics felt that Shaw was sendinga message to Ramsay MacDonald's socialist government.

    The plot centres upon King Magnus, who is given an ultimatumby prime minister Proteus and his corrupt cabinet: the king must stoppublic speaking, manipulating the press, and otherwise using his influence,or the government will curtail his remaining powers. Magnus, however,is clever enough to outwit the politicians, threatening to upset theapple cart by renouncing all his titles in order to enter parliament.Proteus and his cabinet, aware of the king's charm and popularity,withdraw the ultimatum.

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