Now in her 65th year on the throne, you better believe that Queen Elizabeth II knows a few things simply because she’s heard a few things. If you ever thought you had a firm position on nature of the oldest living monarch in British history, get ready to re-evaluate everything you were lead to believe in The Audience where that iconic hand wave will forever remain in fashion.
A play about the weekly sit downs between Her Majesty and elected Prime Ministers throughout time may not sound like a whole lot but let it be said that playwright Peter Morgan’s most enlightening and sometimes comical offering is hands down theatre’s Crown Jewel in the city this month.
And although she wasn’t the first to hold meetings on the 1st floor of Buckingham Palace with the nation’s leaders but she does go down in history as to do so on a regular basis.
‘All I wanted to be is ordinary,’ laments Evan Builing’s John Major in reflecting on the trials and tribulations of being in the public spotlight.
It’s only when you hear these words do you get the impression that the Queen served as a bona fide sounding board—if not quazi-therapist—for her Prime Ministerial flock. The proceeding scenes are alluring, enticing, and utterly spectacular to watch.
More than this, you do witness a surprisingly real human side of a figurehead never truly felt in speeches or visits to foreign nations. This is, after all, the person who challenged tradition of the House of Windsor which involved both coronation conventions and a desire to assume her husband’s last name.
Yet within the confines of a fading empire and a country that needed both reform and modernization, lively Lizzie responded with unbridled empathy as needed.
Fiona Reid is nothing less than breathtaking in the lead role. While it goes without saying that the stalwart performer dazzles in every new persona she brings to the stage, her Queen radiates with concerned compassion for the interest of a people without ever taking political sides despite her heartfelt convictions.
There simply is no better venue than the Princess of Wales Theatre to host such a masterpiece such as this. The stage design is very simple but majestic, with only a few pieces of furniture in the middle for a seated audience and a background of the grand state rooms to give this an authentic distinction.
THE AUDIENCE by Peter Morgan Jan 17 – Feburary 26, 2017 ROYAL ALEXANDRA THEATRE, 260 King Street, Toronto TICKETS $49.00 – $119.00 www.mirvish.com 416-872-1212 CAST Anthony Bekenn, Nigel Bennett, Evan Buliung, David Jansen, Benedict Campbell, Ben Carlson, Naomi Cronk, Paul Essimbre, Kate Hennig, Kevin Klassen, John B. Lowe, Rob McLauglin, Fiona Reid, Melanie Whyte, Stefanie Wien DIRECTOR Christopher Newton SET & COSTUMES Christina Poddubiuk LIGHTING Scott Henderson SOUND DESIGN John Lott STAGE MANAGER Dianne Woodrow