The Audience BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Joan Marcus
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • HR

  • NBC

  • AMNY

Opening Night:
March 8, 2015
Closing:
June 28, 2015

Theater: Gerald Schoenfeld / 236 West 45th Street, New York, NY,

Synopsis: 

For sixty years Elizabeth II has met each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace—a meeting like no other in British public life. Both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said. Not even to their spouses. The Audience breaks this contract of silence and imagines a series of pivotal meetings between the Downing Street incumbents and their Queen. From Churchill to Cameron, each Prime Minister has used these private conversations as a sounding board and a confessional—sometimes intimate, sometimes explosive. In turn, the Queen can't help but reveal her own self as she advises, consoles and, on occasion, teases.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Audience

    ‘The Audience,’ With Helen Mirren, Opens on Broadway

    Ben Brantley

    March 8, 2015: Her Majesty will see you now. That’s the implicit — and for royalty-worshiping Anglophiles, thrilling — promise of “The Audience,” Peter Morgan’s history-skimming chat show about a monarch and her prime ministers, which opened on Sunday night at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater. Yes, that most private of highly public figures, Queen Elizabeth II, is currently receiving visitors on Broadway. What’s more, her celebrated majesty is being embodied by the same majestic celebrity who won an Academy Award for portraying her on screen: Helen Mirren, who picked up a mantelpiece’s worth of prizes for playing Elizabeth in the 2006 film “The Queen” (which had a screenplay by Mr. Morgan). Even if she’s not the real royal deal, this is still about as close as most of us are going to get to a cozy tête-à-tête with the best loved of the regal Windsors. The possibility of privileged access to the glamorously inaccessible is one of the greatest marketing lures there is these days. (Check out any newsstand or bookstore.) And “The Audience,” staged with intimate stateliness by the pedigreed director Stephen Daldry and the designer Bob Crowley, is offering a sort of two-for-one bargain in that regard.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF The Audience

    "The Audience" Theater review

    David Cote

    March 8, 2015: The teen Elizabeth, fated to wear the crown and wield the scepter as Queen of England, hates her new digs at Buckingham Palace. “It’s like being trapped in a museum,” whines the unhappy girl. Contrast her experience with ours at Peter Morgan’s "The Audience." For two hours, we watch a pageant of prime ministers, from Churchill to Cameron, in fictionalized weekly debriefs with their monarch. There’s a touch of waxworks about the piece. But you shouldn’t feel trapped, and anyway, museums can be nice, with pretty things to look at and facts to glean. Helen Mirren’s art of acting is certainly worth your close attention. Exuding perfect regal frostiness while letting us glimpse the lonely person underneath, Mirren transforms brilliantly (helped by lightning-fast costume changes) from the grandmotherly 69-year-old comforting an insecure John Major (Dylan Baker) to the 25-year-old heir apparent nervously schooled by Winston Churchill (Dakin Matthews).

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF The Audience

    Helen Mirren reteams with Peter Morgan to revisit the role that earned her an Oscar

    David Rooney

    March 8, 2015: Geoffrey Beevers plays Queen Elizabeth II's starchy Equerry-in-Waiting in "The Audience", opening the play and then returning at intervals to sketch in the historical background, illuminate the rituals of etiquette and even talk us through the décor of the room at Buckingham Palace in which the British sovereign holds weekly catch-up meetings with her Prime Minister. The equerry functions as a guide, which is appropriate, since Peter Morgan has written not so much a play as a high-toned Anglophile tourist attraction; a reverent theme park ride through six decades of crown and government. And while the writing only occasionally transcends its episodic construction, Helen Mirren's regally inhabited performance makes it a nuanced character study. This is Mirren's second time playing HM, having won an Oscar in 2007 for Stephen Frears' "The Queen", which was also written by Morgan. But while that film built dramatic tension into the rippling after-effects of Princess Diana's death, "The Audience" remains an elegantly linked series of vignettes. Director Stephen Daldry appears to have felt the need to broaden the subtle comedy of his London hit for American tastes, which further exposes the patchwork nature of Morgan's writing. But it's an exemplary showcase for Mirren's cool authority, keen understanding of character and astonishing transformative skills.

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  • NBC NEW YORK REVIEW OF The Audience

    A Coronation, Again, for Helen Mirren in "The Audience"

    Robert Kahn

    March 8, 2015: Helen Mirren, who portrayed Queen Elizabeth on screen nearly a decade ago, revisits the enigmatic head-of-state in another exquisite interpretation, this time on stage in “The Audience” at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Directed by Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliott”), “The Audience” was first produced on the West End in 2013, earning Mirren an Olivier to go along with her Oscar for “The Queen.” While “The Queen” focused on the days and weeks after the death of Princess Diana, “The Audience” paints with a broader stroke, depicting Britain’s longest-reigning monarch in imagined private conversations with the prime ministers who have served during her incredible life, from Winston Churchill to David Cameron. In all, we meet eight of the even dozen. As a Royal Navy officer explains to theatergoers in a preamble to Peter Morgan’s drama—Morgan, author of “Frost/Nixon,” also wrote “The Queen”—it’s tradition for the monarch to have a weekly private audience with her Prime Minister. The meeting takes place in a room on the first floor of Buckingham Palace, and topics of discussion are understood to be confidential, even from spouses.

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  • AM NEW YORK REVIEW OF The Audience

    'The Audience' theater review

    Matt Windman

    March 8, 2015: Helen Mirren, who starred in the 2006 film “The Queen,” is once again playing Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan’s intriguing and insightful drama “The Audience,” which comes to Broadway after a hit London run, in a focused production directed by Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliot,” the upcoming revival of “Skylight”). Whereas “The Queen” depicted Her Majesty immediately following the death of Princess Diana, “The Audience” examines her cordial but complicated relationships with virtually all of the British prime ministers that have been in office from her accession in the early 1950s to the present day – such as Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and David Cameron. Jumping back and forth in chronology, it takes place during the private chats that place once a week between the Queen and the prime minister at Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s younger self also materializes in between scenes, along with footmen, dressers and other staff members.

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