The Audience with Helen Mirren

May 3, 2013

The evening was a female triumph – in that we had a great girls night out and also saw a fabulous female lead in this play about the Queen’s weekly meetings with her Prime Ministers. It helps to be of an age or knowledge to remember many of the current affairs referenced in this play and to be able to instantly recognise the various PMs as they come on stage. It is not done in chronological order but as a series of vignettes strung together by a narrator and conversations between Helen Mirren and her younger self – beautifully played by the young actress on the night we saw it and trying to give us a glimpse of how much like other ‘gals’ she was and had independent spirit.
But Helen Mirren is a star turn. Able to play a woman from 25 to 85 and transform herself before our very eyes. How does she look so frumpy and solid in later life when we see her dazzle in her 1950s black dress as she takes over from her father? Yes clever costuming, but it was in her stance – her feet more solidly planted further apart as she aged, her shoulders slightly dropped, her voice less light and bright. And the actual costume changes done on stage are incredible. I missed them all. Suddenly she is in a different frock, a new era, greyer hair. Very clever.
And the supporting cast are great. Yes, John Major is more Spitting Image than reality, but all of them captured an essence of the man (or woman). And there are plenty of comdedy moments. Dry wit, acerbic put downs. A very easy couple of hours. For me the first half shone over the second, although the poignancy of Wilson’s concern over his mental faculties was beautifully done.
I missed there being no Blair. But there is no Heath either. But there is currency in the script – and I imagine it must evolve if there is a big newsworthy event they can throw a line in about.
This is one to take the over 40s to. Preferably with a little knowledge of British PMs and monarchy, and not looking for hard hitting political satire or anti-monarchy sentiment. It’s as British as a WI baking show and as easily enjoyable as one of their glorious home made sponges. Nearly Four stars.


4 Responses to “The Audience with Helen Mirren”

  1. Tssr14 Says:

    Lola’s dance friend Bebe Lloyd is playing the young queen. T x

    • Yes, Indeed- following her sister on to the West End stage! Unfortunately the prog doesn’t say who is playing her which night and I don’t think it was Bebe but it could have been as haven’t seen her since Nat stopped ATS and Dance Gallery. Whoever she was she was very good. Xx

  2. Anonymous Says:

    How do you do it, Sarah, this is another brilliant piece of work. I love your opening sentences, ever-so-often I am being “magnetized” and drawn into your observations, – so fresh, cool warm and witty! Closer to a five stars, I’d say. Thank you for sharing, keep feeding us.

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