Last night I was very fortunate to have experienced the marvelous production The Audience, starring Kristin Scott Thomas.
The Audience is a very intelligent play, written by Peter Morgan. It revolves around Queen Elizabeth II’s weekly meetings with the Prime Minister, in the Private Audience Room at Buckingham Palace. The story weaves in and out of the decades, showcasing all twelve Prime Ministers who have served Her Royal Highness. The switch between decades is made seamless by her three assistants or perhaps ladies in waiting. At the end of the scene we see three ladies dressed in black surround her while she sits at her desk, and a mere 20 seconds later, the Queen emerges fully changed, hair colour and all!
Kristin Scott-Thomas is simply brilliant in this role, which was first played by Dame Helen Mirren back in 2013. (she is now reprising the role on Broadway in New York) She portrays the Queen with a very real sense of vulnerability, strength and good humour! I have to admit, humour was not something I was expecting from this production, but I actually laughed so hard… it has been written in a very cleverly way, incorporating each prime minister’s attributes into a witty joke on the Queen’s behalf. You can gain a real sense of her relationship with each, some more favourable than others.
In terms of the prime ministers, I will admit my knowledge of British politics is limited and therefore some of the jokes went over my head, but the ministers I did recognise; Churchill, Thatcher, Blair, Brown & Cameron were uncanny in appearance and mannerisms. The dialogue between HRH and PM was written in such a way that by them just having a casual conversation about their weekends, you were able to pick up on the era they were living in. It wasn’t too politics heavy that you became bored within five seconds, rather it was a different insight into each’s personality, and their behaviour towards the Queen told much of the story by itself.
A nice quirk at interval was having two members of the Royal Guard standing in front of the curtain for the full 20 minutes. Every few minutes changing positions and then swapping posts, it really helped to set the scene and remind us who’s life we were watching intently.
My view of the stage
The Apollo Theatre is another of London’s many beautiful theatres. Full of ornate mouldings along the balconies. The roof is a convex shape, covered in stars and clouds, very etherial themes. You may remember back in 2013 the roof here collapsed during a performance of The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night. The roof is now fully restored, you wouldn’t even know it had happened!
If you find yourself in London in the next few months I highly recommend it. It is only running for a limited season, so get in quick!