The Audience
March 7, 2013  //  By:   //  Plays, Reviews  //  Comments are off

Wilma’s Rating [rating=5]


When I first decided to see The Audience I was conscious that I am not the most patriotic of people and may be a bit bored during a show that focuses around the Queen and her weekly meetings with the Prime Minister but I was blown away by the powerful show I saw. I won’t go into detail about the political discussions that wove the tapestry of the show (as I feel I have not been close enough to the real situations over the years) but I’m sure the newspapers will be covering those areas in detail. As always, my review is from a more personal perspective.

The Audience focuses around weekly meetings that the Queen has with eight of the twelve Prime Ministers she has seen during her time in reign. This is all speculation as these meetings have always been private but Peter Morgan (who also wrote The Queen) covers many different subject matters that may have come up over the years.

From Winston Churchill to David Cameron, we see personal, private conversations that make you feel you are truly a fly on the wall in the Queens living room. A marvelous portrayal of Margaret Thatcher by Haydn Gwynne sticks out as one of the most powerful of performances.

A lovely touch to the show was the queen returning from her walk with Corgis in hand. I always get excited when I see live animals in theatre these days. It’s a nice touch.

Clever, on-stage, quick changes are executed without the audience realising and before you can blink Helen Mirren has been transformed from grey haired old Liz into a young, brown haired Queen in a dazzling outfit.

There are many, unexpected, moments of humor including one where the Queen says ‘People see me as a postage stamp with a pulse’ bringing to life how isolated her life can be.

A gangnam style ringtone (which was sadly not the first mobile phone to go off during the performance) turned out to be none other than the Queens phone in her handbag (does she not know theatre etiquette?). When she realised it was her new Samsung that one of her grandchildren had given her, she joked that it worked also as a tracking device (in case she should ever try to escape)!

A beautiful production, eloquently delivered in every way. From set design, lighting and sound, everything has been carefully considered and makes the play one of the rare shows that I would happily pay top price to see again. The Queen herself should be proud of a show so tastefully produced. I wonder if she will make a trip to see the show?

On 13th June The Audience will be broadcast live in cinemas across the UK as part of the National Theatre Live initiative which allows people to watch live theatre at a much lower cost, on the big screen. I would definitely recommend a trip to see it if you can’t make it to the theatre itself.

The Audience plays at London’s Gielgud Theatre until 15th June. Click here for tickets