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About: The Audience

Published 6 May 2015

What’s it all about?

Much like the news at the moment, this is about royals and prime ministers.

While our current headlines are dominated by the individuals who stand a chance of becoming our future PM, this Olivier Award nominated play looks back at those who have already been in charge of the country, imagining their weekly 20-minute meetings with one particular member of the royal family, the Queen.

Who’s in it?

While Helen Mirren flies the Union Flag on Broadway, the West End has welcomed another Olivier Award winner, Kristin Scott Thomas, into the role of Elizabeth II. She had big shoes to fill but she’s pulled it off, capturing every wry smile, pursed lip and refined look of the much-loved monarch.

From the Queen’s very first ‘audiences’ with Winston Churchill finding her feet as the new British sovereign to her fraught conversations about taking the country to war, Scott Thomas plays the part beautifully, maintaining Her Majesty’s familiar tones whether she’s raising her voice of having a good chuckle.

As the Downing Street dwellers, Gordon Kennedy is a particularly memorable Gordon Brown, roaring with laughter over Tony Blair and bonding with the Queen over their OCD, while Michael Gould is an excellent John Major who moans about Maggie and breaks down in tears as he relives his childhood disappointment.

Once again, as in its world premiere, it is Harold Wilson the audience (that’s us this time) warms to the most of the play’s political leaders. Following in the footsteps of Olivier Award winner Richard McCabe, Nicholas Woodeson brings humour and endearment to the role of the Labour leader, shaking his Polaroid pictures with panache, wowing the ruler with his photographic memory and, latterly, sharing his concerns as he suffers with the onset of Alzheimer’s.

What should I look out for?

Bob Crowley’s stunning costumes. From the extravagant gowns to the modest but elegant dresses and cardigans worn by the Queen throughout her reign, it’s the next best thing to sneaking into Buckingham Palace and having a good rifle through Her Majesty’s wardrobe.

In a nutshell?

One is absolutely amused! Kristin Scott Thomas succeeds Helen Mirren in style, bringing her own steely strength and wit to Her Majesty The Queen in a timely revival of Peter Morgan’s acclaimed play.

Who was in the press night crowd?

We caught sight of a couple of Olivier Award winners in the stalls, as Mark Strong and David Haig came along to enjoy the opening night of Stephen Daldry’s production.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@tinasaunders88 @theaudienceplay  fantastic evening watching this clever show. @K_ScottThomas is faultless & captures the Queen perfectly. Recommended!

@ConorSheridan81 Just watched Kristen Scott Thomas as Queen Elizabeth in The Audience. Now I really fancy the queen ! Phenomenal perf

Will I like it?

It doesn’t matter whether or not you saw The Audience first time round. With a new leading lady and a reworking of the script that includes a speech by Tony Blair justifying his reasons for wanting to go to war with Iraq and the Queen’s good luck wish to Cameron in the run-up to the election, it is well worth making a(nother) trip to Shaftesbury Avenue for the return of this acclaimed hit.

In fact, depending on the outcome of Thursday’s vote, the production may change more still, as Ed Miliband – the character, rather than a theatrically-inclined MP – is on standby to appear should the Reds emerge triumphant.

The Audience is playing at the Apollo Theatre until 25 July. You can book tickets through us.

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