Kunene and the King

Kunene and the King

Don’t miss John Kani’s highly acclaimed play Kunene and the King marking the 25th anniversary of the end of apartheid with a strictly limited London run.

“John Kani’s deep and funny play marking the 25th anniversary of Apartheid’s end transfers to the Ambassadors after a great run in Stratford-upon-Avon. With remarkable performances from John Kani and Anthony Sher, under the deft direction of Janice Honeyman, this South African trio handle a vital play with virtuosic command.”


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 is a celebrated classical actor who’s just been given both a career-defining role and a life-changing diagnosis. Besides his age, Jack has seemingly little in common with his at-home nurse Lunga Kunene, but the two men soon discover their shared passion for Shakespeare, which ignites this ‘rich, raw and shattering head-to-head’ (The Times).

Written by South African actor, activist and playwright John Kani (Black Panther, The Island, Sizwe Banzi is Dead), this refreshingly funny and vital new play is directed by Janice Honeyman (Vice Versa; The Tempest, 2009) and sees fellow South African Antony Sher (King Lear, 2016 & 2018; Death of a Salesman) perform alongside John Kani in an exceptionally moving performance.

Book now for this ‘fascinating and necessary’ (Financial Times) play, co-produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre, as it transfers to the Ambassadors Theatre for nine weeks only from 24 January 2020.

Please note this show contains strobe lighting, strong language, and some scenes that audiences may find upsetting.

Critic reviews

Poignant two-hander illuminates post-apartheid South Africa

Guardian (from Stratford run)

Clever and compassionate but feels forced at times

The Stage (from Stratford run)

An absorbing comedy-drama

The Sunday Times (from Stratford run)

Creaky post-Apartheid drama lit up by two veterans of the stage

The Telegraph

Kani’s script is at its best when it uses Shakespeare and language to address wider themes

London Box Office

As a whole, Kunene and the King is an ambiguous play

Broadway World

This is an international theatre collaboration that's a miniature gem

London Theatre

It’s a 'speak what we feel' moment, a profound, unexpected apotheosis

The Arts Desk

Kunene and the King review: Apartheid battle reduced to an odd-couple double act

Evening Standard

So although the play is tough-minded and its words always ring true, the relationship between the two men didn't quite


Kani’s writing tends towards the expositional, especially on the subject of politics, and the dialogue can lurch from theme to theme

Time Out

An absorbing two-hander

The Times

Offers valuable insight into a complex society and portrays a powerful and moving connection between two people who are acutely aware of their history and mortality

The Upcoming

The two actors bounce off each other beautifully in an engaging duologue


It is a masterclass from two phenomenal actors

West End Wilma

While the script is often rich in humour and colour, it is elsewhere unfortunately characterterised by rather creaky dialogue

A Younger Theatre

Date & time

Show ended
Fri 24 Jan - Sat 28 Mar, 3pm & 7.30pm


West Street WC2H 9ND London, UK · Get Directions

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