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Review Roundup: THE AUDIENCE Starring Helen Mirren


The Audience began previewing at the Gielgud Theatre on 15 February 2013, with press night on 5 March 2013 and is booking to 15 June 2013. Designs are by Bob Crowley with lighting by Rick Fisher, sound by Paul Arditti, music by Paul Englishby and video by Ian William Galloway.

Joining Helen Mirren who plays The Queen in the world premiere of Peter Morgan's The Audienceare Michael Elwyn as Anthony Eden, Haydn Gwynne as Margaret Thatcher, Richard McCabe as Harold Wilson, Nathaniel Parker as Gordon Brown, Paul Ritter as John Major, Rufus Wright as David Cameron and EdWard Fox as Winston Churchill. The Equerry is Geoffrey Beevers and the role of Young Elizabeth is played by Bebe Cave, Maya Gerber and Nell Williams. David Peart plays James Callaghan who is joined by ensemble members Jonathan Coote, Ian Houghton and Charlotte Moore.

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Let's see what the critics had to say:

Charles Spencer of the Daily Telegraph says: In times past, the dramatist Peter Morgan would have been locked up in the tower for such impudent lese-majesty, and might have counted himself lucky to have kept his head on his shoulders. But as he showed in his screenplay for The Queen about the crisis that engulfed the Royal Family following the death of Princess Diana, Morgan admires his monarch. And in this marvellous piece, with Helen Mirren once again giving a magnificent performance as the Queen, he penetrates at least some her mystery, with compassion, grace, affection and humour.

Michael Coveney of writes: Helen Mirren's brilliant but un-showy performance - magically still and dignified, with a glancing look of either regret or critical intervention despatched along her own left shoulder and arm - we see an almost Shakespearean monarch who measures her own loneliness and sense of duty against the temporal troubles of her premier politicians, some of whom are even keener to tell her how to do her job than they are to explain their own

Paul Taylor of the Independent says: The 67-year-old Mirren rises to the daunting technical challenge with a quite uncannily fluid lightness of touch as she shifts back and forth on an age-spectrum of six decades. At one end, in mourning black and with a tight, high-pitched plumminess of voice, she's the 26-year-old neophyte, already angling to secure her interests as a wife and mother against the paternalist and patronising solicitude of Churchill... at the other, she's an octogenarian, nodding off during a session with the bland Cameron.

Michael Billington of the Guardian writes: As a dramatist, however, Morgan faces two problems. One is that no one ever knows what is said at these weekly tête-à-têtes since they are un-minuted. The other, more serious, is that in a constitutional monarchy, the Queen has no authority to contradict policy: simply, in the words of Walter Bagehot in the 19th century, "to be consulted, to advise and to warn", which would seem to rule out dramatic conflict. I'd say that Morgan counters these problems with varying degrees of success.

Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail says: Dame Helen Mirren is now so good at playing the Queen, you could stick her on stamps and people would lick them. She not only looks passably like our Monarch but also inhabits the character in a deeper way, from little touches to the handbag, to the half-thrown, dry asides. We saw it in the film, The Queen, but it is more impressive on stage where Dame Helen's blend of regal composure and stolid understatement is tangible.

David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter says: Her incisive performance again crackles with intelligence, acerbic wit and profound sensitivity. That she convincingly portrays Queen Elizabeth II at various points from her late 20s through to her 80s is further evidence of Mirren's formidable technique.

The Metro reports: Mirren, in a series of spot-on period transformations, cleverly enforces Morgan's most interesting point: that the monarchy is not so much an imperial institution as one dependent on the will of the people. 'Make up your minds what you want us to be,' an anguished monarch tells John Major when, during the Princess Diana divorce shenanigans, he suggests the Royals should decommission Britannia in order to regain a bit of popularity.

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