I just watched the National Theatre Live’s production of Helen Mirren, starring in The Audience by Peter Morgan at the Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol.
In the course of her (so far!) 61 year reign, Queen Elizabeth II meets with each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace. These meetings are completely private and the contents are not shared with anyone, even spouses. What Peter Morgan has done is to imagine what might have been said in these private meetings between Queen and Prime Minister in order to create a funny, insightful and often touching portrait of some of England’s leaders.
Mirren is excellent, but so too is Haydn Gwynne as Margaret Thatcher, Nathanial Parker as Gordon Brown.
What could have been two and one-half hours of tedious, one-on-one political conversation instead flew by, thanks to Morgan’s witty and perceptive dialogue; brilliant staging and costumes, and a dramatic structure that seamlessly shifts forward and back in the chronology of her reign.
During the intermission, Peter Morgan was interviewed on camera. He admitted that since the meetings were all secret, he couldn’t be sure of their content. However, he did know what was going on just before and after each of the weekly encounters so although he couldn’t claim accuracy, he could claim truthfulness.
Take a minute to watch the Audience Trailer. You’ll see why each of us in our party of 5 left the theater wishing the show hadn’t ended!