“Wholly tremendous.” – Daily Telegraph
Last month, Helen Mirren won the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play and Richard McCabe won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. Now, you can see both their performances in The Audience from the comfort of the World Trade Center. For sixty years, Queen Elizabeth II (Mirren) has met with each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a private weekly meeting. This meeting is known as The Audience. No one knows what they discuss, not even their spouses. From the old warrior Winston Churchill, to the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, right up to the current incumbent David Cameron, the Queen advises her Prime Ministers on all matters both public and personal. Through these private audiences, we see glimpses of the woman behind the crown and witness the moments that shaped a monarch.
“When Peter told me he had written this play and asked me to read it, I sent him a two word e-mail: ‘You bastard!’” – Helen Mirren
The Audience is written by Peter Morgan who also wrote The Queen, for which Mirren won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. Morgan wrote the show as a uniquely theatrical event and covered vastly different ground, so there was no question of it being a repeat of the film. Mirren says, “It’s very different from the movie. It’s very funny and very moving and I have to play her from 25 to 87.”
“To ensure confidentiality, no private secretaries are present, and no minutes are taken; nor do freedom of information laws apply.” – The Telegraph
The Queen’s weekly audiences with her prime ministers enable them to discuss matters of high policy in perfect confidence, and with the sure knowledge that their comments will not reach outside ears. Margaret Thatcher wrote: “Anyone who imagines that they [the audiences] are a mere formality or confined to social niceties is quite wrong.” Because the privacy of the audiences is respected, no one can know what is said there. There is and can be no evidence that anything in The Audience actually happened. The play is Morgan’s intelligent reconstruction of what might have happened, and he has reason to believe he is not wildly far off the mark.
“I didn’t speak to any prime ministers, but I spoke to people quite close to them… We would certainly hear back if we got anything wrong. So far we haven’t heard anything.” – Playwright Peter Morgan