Dame Helen Mirren made history recently when she was awarded her first ever Olivier Award in honour of her starring role in The Audience. Mirren is now the first actress to have won an Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Olivier for playing the same character, as she was previously acclaimed for her extraordinary performance as Queen Elizabeth II in the film The Queen. In the highly-anticipated new West End play The Audience, Mirren again brings to life the monarch who is both utterly familiar and utterly mysterious.
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 – it is private. 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. From young mother to grandmother, these private audiences chart the arc of the second Elizabethan Age. Politicians come and go through the revolving door of electoral politics, while she remains constant, waiting to welcome her next Prime Minister.
The Audience reunites Helen Mirren with British playwright and film writer Peter Morgan, following their collaboration on The Queen and is directed by Academy Award-nominated director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours). Mirren’s co-star in The Audience, Richard McCabe who plays Prime Minister Harold Wilson, was awarded Best Supporting Actor at the Olivier Awards.
Currently playing to sold-out audiences at the Gielgud Theatre in London, The Audience has received 4 and 5 star reviews from London critics, with the UK Times calling it ‘Funny and truthful, good-hearted, spiky, full of surprises. I loved every minute’; The Daily Mail ‘One of the theatrical highlights of 2013’; and the Telegraph declaring Mirren’s performance ‘magnificent’.
The Audience, captured live in HD from London’s Gielgud Theatre as part of the National Theatre Live initiative, screens in limited release at Palace Byron Bay Cinema from July 6 and 7.