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NT Live Encore 'The Audience' at Second Space, The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Published by: Yvonne Delahaye on 2nd Sep 2016 | View all blogs by Yvonne Delahaye

The National Theatre’s Live Screenings have been an outstanding success around the country, enabling everyone to see an NT production without having to travel to London.  Some of the most popular screenings are being repeated and if you missed them first time around, it’s certainly worth trying to catch one of the ‘Encore’ screenings around the country.

To celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday, The Audience has returned to cinemas starring Helen Mirren in the multi-award  winning performance as Queen Elizabeth.  Written by Peter Morgan , who also wrote the film The Queen, the play is directed by two-time Tony Award winner and Academy Award nominated director Stephen Daldry.

For sixty years, Queen Elizabeth II has met with each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a private weekly meeting, lasting just 20 minutes.  These meetings are known as ‘The Audience’ and are completely confidential, creating speculation about what is actually discussed between the two parties.

Helen Mirren is outstanding as The Queen and it’s a hard task to change physically and vocally through six decades, as well as all the rapid costume and wig changes.  Her comic timing is spot on and she perfects the regal mannerisms, withering looks and humour of our much-loved monarch.

Supported by a tremendous cast playing the 12 prime ministers, each meeting is a vignette providing an insight into what was happening politically at the time.  With Edward Fox as Churchill, Michael Elwyn as Anthony Eden, Richard McCabe as Harold Wilson, Nathaniel Parker as Gorden Brown, Paul Ritter as Rufus Wright and David Peart as James Callaghan, who all portray their respective PMs with brilliant authenticity.  For me though, the meeting between Margaret Thatcher, superbly played by Haydn Gwynne, was the highlight of the play.  Haydn totally captured the vocal intonations and authority of Thatcher and for a while you could imagine you were witnessing an actual conversation.

The screening ends with a Q&A session recorded between Stephen Daldry and Helen Mirren and is well worth staying a few more minutes to listen to.

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
1.9.16
@yvonnedelahaye

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