Read the reviews for Kunene and the King

  • Running time:

    1 hr 36 mins (no interval)

Next performance:

26 February, 3:00PM

Ambassadors Theatre



'‘Two giants of South African theatre join forces for this warm and moving play…both are masters of their craft’

‘Kani is simply magnificent… one of the most tender, beautiful performances currently on the London stage.’


'Antony Sher is utterly superb, you cannot take your eyes of him'

'John Kani is astonishing as Lunga'

'A beautiful piece of theatre, (...) a masterclass from two phenomenal actors'


‘A dignified South African treat’



'An absorbing two-hander'


‘John Kani’s poignant two-hander about contemporary South Africa’

‘Two subtle, moving performances’


‘Powerful performances from two actors at the top of their game…a striking and memorable piece of theatre’



‘Poignant two-hander illuminates post-apartheid South Africa’

‘John Kani beautifully captures the complex divides of race, class and politics in a remarkable and moving new play’

‘John Kani beautifully captures the complex divides of race, class and politics in a remarkable and moving new play’

‘Directed by Janice Honeyman…with exquisite delicacy’

‘Offers a rich portrait of a relationship and a society’

‘It contains two great performances: [Antony] Sher…captures all of the old actor’s testiness, insecurity and his Lear-like moral awakening’

‘[John] Kani is equally magnificent in showing how Kunene’s dignified forbearance… conceals a deep anger at the cruelty and injustice created by apartheid and at the persistent inequalities in South African life’


‘Director Janice Honeyman…is blessed with the play’s author, John Kani, and recent RSC Lear Antony Sher…two terrific performances’

‘[John] Kani has a deft ability to weave comedy and pathos together, with some killer moments and a nice line in humour’

‘There are some beautiful touches across the production, including Lungiswa Plaatjies' haunting vocals, which bring authentic life to Neo Muyanga's music, a surprisingly conventional but effective set from designer Birrie Le Roux and some impressive lighting and sound effects from Mannie Manim and Jonathan Ruddick respectively’


★★★★The Stage

‘John Kani's clever and compassionate character study’

‘[John] Kani’s writing remains deeply incisive, full of both anger and understanding’

‘Director Janice Honeyman lets each scene develop in its own time, lifting meandering conversations with a good dose of gallows humour to get the most out of the play’s wrenching emotional shifts’

‘[John] Kani plays semi-retired nurse Kunene, shouldering unhealable emotional scars but remaining a beacon of warmth and dignity’

‘Antony Sher’s cantankerous Morris, an ageing actor with advanced liver cancer…tackles this complicated character with real skill, equally terrified and outraged by the fact of his own mortality’

‘Lungiswa Plaatjies plays traditional instruments and sings with a lilting but resonant voice. At one point, she belts out a completely transporting vocal evocation of a summer storm, perfectly capturing the rumble of thunder and the hiss of falling hail’

★★★★The Times

‘[Antony Sher] is huge in this RSC production, arriving with mortality clinging to his clothes and hair like cigarette smoke’

‘It’s electrified by its clear-eyed political reckoning, by passion and by fine performances’

‘There’s a musicality to the way these actors work together’

★★★★The Observer

‘[John] Kani’s powerful new drama’

‘They both deliver “Friends Romans, countrymen”: [Antony] Sher speaks in English, [John] Kani in Xhosa. Both are powerful: Sher defiant, Kani radiant’

‘As Kunene, [John] Kani is a beacon: rich-voiced, contained, determined’

‘As the dying man, Sher – florid in speech, frowsty in tartan slippers – carries his pain like a terrible armour from which his skin is shrinking’

‘Lungiswa Plaatjies….singing new compositions by Neo Muyanga, her voice like a chime’

★★★★★Libby Purves, theatreCat

'Often funny, sometimes explosive, sometimes poignant, always, arresting and important'

'Opens great vistas of heart-stopping universal wisdom about death, guilt, reconciliation and human need'

'Honest, humane and thoughtful play'

'Sher is wonderful, fine-tuned in every move... opening fissures of stark feeling'

'A terrible mutual rage flares, becomes a fiery dance of laughter, subsides to glowing embers in the beauty of still, wry reconciliation'