Helen Mirren is playing the Monarch after 2007 when she won as Oscar for her performance as the England’s monarch, this time she is playing Queen Elizabeth in Peter Morgan’s Broadway show “The Audience”.
The royalty has always been a subject of intrigue for the public whose life is touched by royalty in one way or another. Princess Diana allowed a glimpse of affection on the royalty and her sons have tried to maintain that virtuosity with the public maintaining the decorum that is required by them from the Royal family.
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In the most attractive figures in the Royal family, the current ruling Monarch, Queen Elizabeth has been discreet and personal about her life. The only way we know her is through self dictated narration, biographies, hall gossips and mere instances in which her acquaintances might have mentioned her.
We have had a glimpse in her life in 2006 in one of the toughest times on the Royal family when they lost their most beloved Princess Diana. Helen Mirren reprised the role of Queen Elizabeth in “The Queen”. The actress’ portrayal of the monarch earned her an Oscar.
Peter Morgan’s recreates the life of the famous Queen once more on stage in the most recent play “The Audience” which opened this Sunday at Gerald Schoenfeld Theater. Hoping to capture the life of the impressive long living monarch in a most acceptable and perceptible personality. Morgan admits that her life is of course very personal so the best thing a person can accomplish is to formulate a personality for the Queen.
The play is about the Queen’s life over the years. The passage of time indicated in the play is through the portrayal of the weekly meetings between the Queen and the various Prime Ministers that have come and went during her rule. Director Stephen Daldry and the designer Bob Crowley took extreme care in designing and delivering the tête-à-têtes is the Audience Room in Buckingham Palace, a grandly scaled space framed by massive pillars and, through the illusion of forced perspective, giving onto a long corridor that leads to the Throne Room.
Morgan took care to suggest that the conversations is only between the two participants of the meetings but the nature of the conversation was sometimes impressive but sometimes the assumed conversations were not up to the par. Equerry to Her Majesty who serves as our part-time narrator and annotative guide was played by Geoffrey Beevers
The play included her various meetings including with Winston Churchill, Gordon Brown, Harold Wilson, Tony Blair, Anthony Eden and Margaret Thatcher. All the meetings depicted showed the evolution of the Queen from a naïve young 14 years old monarch who was made to listen to Churchill while he spoke to a stoic stance she took in the dealings of United Kingdom in the matters of Suez Canal and invasion of Iraq to an argument with Margaret over involvement in South Africa.
The actors all delivered amazing performances but Judith Ivey portraying Thatcher was down sized to a villain. It might have been the most powerful dialogue in the entire play but it faltered to marginal in comparison to the two scenes depicted outdoors. One is the extraordinary wartime radio address that the 14-year-old princess Elizabeth delivered in 1940 to the children of the commonwealth.
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Elizabeth Teeter, alternated in the role with Sadie Sink delivered brilliant performance is the portrayal of young Elizabeth while overshadowed by an older version of the Queen by Mirren to show comparison of the challenges of age and sacrifice the woman has gone through. The other scene to capture the senses is the fall-on-your-knees investiture scene at the end of Act I in which the 25-year-old Elizabeth is robed and anointed and crowned as Queen, “half human, half apostolic avenging angel”. Mirren’s ability as an actress and her subtle style made her the most perfect personification of the most beloved Queen and definitely the Queen of the stage who might finally earn her the Tony Award.