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The Audience @ Gielgud Theatre

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by Dylan Lyons (subscribe)
I'm a freelance journalist from the New York City area, studying in London this semester. Follow me on Twitter: @dylanlyons91
Published April 18th 2013
A West End play that's fit for a Queen


Whether on stage or on screen, Helen Mirren can play the Queen like no one else can. In Peter Morgan's play "The Audience," she reprises her most notable role as Britain's elegant monarch and does not fail to deliver a stellar performance once again.

The show, currently playing at the Gielgud Theatre in Soho, tells the story of the Queen's weekly meetings in Buckingham Palace with the various prime ministers, from Churchill to Cameron. These fairly brief meetings allow the prime minister to update the Queen on the happenings in government and foreign affairs. They also provide the Queen with an outlet through which to express some of her opinions and give input because she is traditionally not supposed to do so in public.

"The Audience," directed by Stephen Daldry, gives viewers insight into a private, confidential part of the Queen's weekly routine. The story skips around between her meetings with the different prime ministers, and interwoven between them are moments where the audience sees the Queen as a young girl, struggling with her imprisonment in the life of a royal.

The acting is excellent throughout the play. Particularly noteworthy performances came from Richard McCabe as PM Howard Wilson, who mastered the politician's accent and battle with Alzheimer's, and Haydn Gwynne as PM Margaret Thatcher.

The script was top-notch as well, with timely updates, such as reference to Thatcher's funeral and the Queen's decision to attend. Realistic and often humourous dialogue adds to the charm of "The Audience" and the complex relationships between the Queen and her PMs are fascinatingly portrayed.

However, perhaps the most amazing feat of the production is its ability to make viewers see things from the Queen's perspective and even feel a pang of sympathy for her very abnormal life. When appearances are everything and keeping up a majestic personage at all times is expected, the pressures are sometimes too much to bear. "The Audience" provides viewers with this flip side to the Queen's 'perfect' life.

The play has a running time of 2 hours and 15 minutes with one interval. Tickets are available from twenty-five pounds and the show's limited season will run until June 15.
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Phone: 0844 482 5130
Where: Gielgud Theatre
Cost: Tickets from 25
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