The Audience is not a historic retelling of what happened during the weekly, 20 minute meetings that Queen Elizabeth has had with every Prime Minister, from Churchill to Cameron, for the past 60 years. Rather the conversations are imagined and created by playwright Peter Morgan, who has chosen to humanize the Queen. (You don’t need to know anything about England’s prime ministers because a cheat sheet is inserted into the Playbills).
The play bounces back and forth in time and through costume changes, wigs and posture Helen Mirren is equally believable as a young and old Elizabeth. At times she interacts with her younger self (played by Elizabeth Teeter on the night I attended the play). These scenes, when she realizes that she is not like everyone else, are touching and a bit sad. But it’s during the weekly meetings that the Queen becomes cheeky – sometimes acting as therapist, other times as sparring partner.
Mr. Morgan’s Queen Elizabeth is sharp and fully engaged in British politics and culture and he leads you to believe that if Queen Elizabeth had the choice in 1952 she might have turned down the chance to become monarch. Luckily for us Dame Helen Mirren did not turn down her chance to play queen and she rules from the Broadway stage. I was glad to be part of her audience.* LAR
*I must make note that the audience was the best dressed and most sophisticated looking audience I’ve seen in quite some time.
Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, 236 W 45th Street
Tickets prices: $75-$145 (discounts currently not available)
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, includes one intermission
Runs thru: June 28, 2015