It may seem as though there’s been a lot of theater of late – which is true. But only because the new Spring season is upon us and the great stuff goes fast. The MWC policy is to not slavishly adhere to a schedule – but to grab wonderful opportunities as they appear. Which is why Dee grabbed tickets (which are $138. each) to the limited run production of THE AUDIENCE on April 29th. You’ll be glad she did.
If you didn’t see it in London last year and you didn’t catch the Fathom Events film broadcast of the National Theater production here in the US, you still have a chance to experience the rapturously reviewed play THE AUDIENCE starring, of course, the multi-award laden Dame Helen Mirren, who has already won the Olivier Award for this performance. Don’t let that “of course” put you off. At this point, Helen Mirren may know more about the psyche of Queen Elizabeth II than anyone outside her immediate family given Mirren’s indisputable talent for digging deep into the recesses of her characters’ consciousnesses. After her Academy Award winning performance of the British monarch in THE QUEEN in 2006, here she is almost ten years later tackling the same character but in very different circumstances and in a new medium.
An actress of Mirren’s range may be exactly what is needed to plumb one of the world’s most suppressed personalities – and it is unlikely anyone could do it better. Helen’s Mirren’s astonishing range of characters – early in her career as the wacky-sexy wife in the avant-garde black comedy THE COOK, the THIEF, HIS WIFE & HIS LOVER, as the beleaguered but sympathetic wife of George III in THE MADNESS of KING GEORGE, as the flinty, independent and driven Jane Tennison in the PRIME SUSPECT television series, as one of the women in the feel-good film CALENDAR GIRLS, as the sharp-shooting agent in the wildly popular movie series RED (Retired and Extremely Dangerous) and as almost every Shakespearean female lead – shows that she can do them all. But none perhaps so perfectly as Queen Elizabeth II.
Playwright Peter Morgan has constructed the perfect, unassailable, dramatic setting. The Queen sees the Prime Minister once a week – every week. No one is privy as to what is discussed, whether it’s private or political or whether the two are like-minded or don’t get along. The assumption is that this foments a relationship between these two important people but that it also allows them to be forthcoming and unedited with each other. From Winston Churchill to the incumbent David Cameron, Queen Elizabeth has held these weekly sessions with 12 prime ministers since she ascended the throne in 1952. This arrangement is catnip for a playwright who can make anything happen. And. just to make this the perfect creative tri-fecta, THE QUEEN has been taken in hand by everyone’s favorite and wildly capable British director, Stephen Daldry. Take a look at the clip below and you’ll get a feel for the potential of dramatic interpretation.