Review: The Audience

In a captivating and funny new play Helen Mirren returns to her Oscar award winning role as the Queen.

Written by Peter Morgan, author of The Queen, this moving stage-adaptation follows the Queen’s journey from a young woman to present day and sympathetically examines what it means to live your life in the spotlight of the monarchy.

We watch Queen Elizabeth II as she undergoes her weekly audiences with Prime Ministers across the centuries, as if peering through a key hole at these often personal and heated meetings. As a young woman the Queen bounces around the stage asking the Prime Minister energetic questions. She later bumps elbows with Margaret Thatcher, but when it is David Cameron’s turn, she quickly falls asleep. This is not a reflection on Cameron, but more a comment on how demanding the Queen’s role is. As her character says, even the Pope is not “the lifer that she is,”  tied to her job and in the gaze of the country.

The Audience's Helen Mirren
The Audience’s Helen Mirren

What could be a dry and monotonous series of meetings is in fact a cleverly-staged, thought provoking and surprisingly funny story. Mirren effortlessly transforms on stage from the 87 year-old Queen to a woman in her 20’s. The simplicity of the staging, most of the play takes place in one set of just two chairs, allows Mirren’s emotive and versatile performance to capture the audience.

Whether you are a fan of the Queen or not, this play will make you re-asses your view of the monarchy. Mirren’s faultless performance brings the Queen to life in a new and emotive way. Teamed with the funny and though-provoking script, this is a must see.

And for those of us on a budget The National Theatre have introduced their new NT Live with screenings of plays in local cinemas across the country.

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