Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Audience

In what might be heralded as the show of the season, Dame Helen Mirren graces the stage at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre bringing Queen Elizabeth II to life right here on West 45th Street here in the USA.  What is not as evident is that this play is not only about her, it is about her Prime Ministers and how history and their personalities shaped her life.

This production is written and presents her in a very soft light.  Her youth interrupted by the duties of Royalty;  Her upbringing influenced by wars, world events, and the British culture.  Her steadfast dedication to Britain even today is a testament to her perseverance  and steadfast dedication to her calling.

Peter Morgan's book which has changed ever so slightly for the US audiences presents her story as told through glimpses into the private meetings she holds with her Prime Ministers.  Lightly narrated by Geoffrey Beavers (Equerry) to give it an "insider feeling", it was funny, touching, heartfelt and endearing and this portrait of the queen does not dwell on any one event or family tragedy. On the contrary - it flows as effortlessly as her on-stage costume changes throughout the long span of her reign.

Equally diverse were her prime ministers over the years as portrayed by fine actors who all looked and sounded like their real-life role models.  From Winston Churchill (Dakin Matthews) and Margaret Thatcher (Judith Ivey) to John Major (Dylan Baker) to Gordon Brown (Rod McLachlan) and Tony Blair all the way up to the current David Cameron  (both Rufus Wright)- they all brought a political bent and a touching tale to the stage to help frame the life and experiences of the queen.

Life apparently isn't all tea and crumpets and Dame Helen Mirren brings the majesty as well as the normalcy of having lived a life in a castle straight to the stage.

A first class production all around which looked, sounded, and felt like they spent King's ransom on it behind the scenes.  There are even two of the queens guards in full regalia standing at attention guarding the stage at intermission.  Run.  Don't Walk.