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BWW Review: Fiona Reid Shines in THE AUDIENCE

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Fans of The Crown on Netflix will love The Audience. In fact, they share the same writer (Peter Morgan wrote the Netflix series and is the playwright) though the projects are separated by a few years of development. In fact, some of the dialogue from the Netflix show is clearly lifted from the play.

The play is described as: The Audience takes theatregoers behind the walls of Buckingham Palace and into the private chambers of Queen Elizabeth II as she meets with each of her Prime Ministers through her 60 year reign, from when she was a young mother to now as a Great Grandmother. From the old warrior Winston Churchill, to the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, through the charm offensive of Tony Blair right up to today's meetings with the current incumbent David Cameron, the Queen advises her Prime Ministers on all matters both public and personal. Through these private audiences, we see glimpses of the woman behind the crown and witness the moments that shaped a monarch.

But of course, as no one really knows what happens in these meetings we aren't seeing the woman behind the crown - but how Morgan has imagined her - and likely how much of the commonwealth would picture her to be.

Still the production makes for excellent theatre and fans dry, British humor will have plenty to enjoy.

Reid truly shines as the older, more mature Queen Elizabeth II, though she's less convincing as pre-coronation Elizabeth though one must make allowances considering the scope of the role.

The only lackluster moments in the play are those featuring Naomi Cronk as a young Elizabeth - though these are necessary for Reid's costumes change but perhaps could have been used to greater effect.

Kate Hennig shines the brightest of the Prime Ministers as the sassy Margaret Thatcher.

The production also features Anthony Bekenn as Equerry, Nigel Bennett as Harold Wilson, Evan Buliung as John Major, Benedict Campbell as Gordon Brown, Ben Carlson as David Cameron, Paul Essiembre as Anthony Eden, David Jansen as John Major, Kevin Klassen as Tony Blair, John B. Lowe as Winston Churchill, and Rob Mclaughlin as Private Secretary.

If you enjoyed The Crown, love British humor, or just need a fun night at the theatre, The Audience is for you. The Audience plays through February 26th at the newly renovaTEd Royal Alexandra Theatre. For tickets, visit Mirvish.com.

Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann


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