Helen Mirren to Reprise Role of Queen Elizabeth II on the London Stage in Peter Morgan's The Audience
By Mark Shenton
Helen Mirren, who won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen," scripted by Peter Morgan, will return to the role to play her again on the London stage in The Audience.
The play, also scripted by Morgan, will begin performances at the Gielgud Theatre Feb. 15, 2013, with an official opening March 5. The production is currently booking through June 15.
Designs are by Bob Crowley and sound is by Paul Arditti.
"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," according to press notes. "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. 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."
Morgan was previously represented on the London stage by Frost/Nixon, which premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in 2006 starring Michael Sheen and Frank Langella in the title roles, who subsequently reprised those performances in the West End, on Broadway and a subsequent film version. Now "The Queen" is traveling in the reverse direction, premiering as a film and now becoming a play.
Mirren, who is currently shooting a thriller "Red 2" with Bruce Willis, was last seen on the London stage in the title role of Phedre at the National Theatre in 2009. Speaking of the play, she told the Daily Mail, "I think it's about what power means and how people handle it. Not the Queen, incidentally, because she is comparatively powerless. But how power is held in the hands of these men — and one woman — and the effect that has on their personalities and their psyche. In the beginning, the Queen is the young, nervous, unknowledgeable one. But as she progresses through them, they become the nervous ones. She’s the one constant, through a revolving door of prime ministers."
The Audience will be directed by Stephen Daldry.
Tickets for The Audience, which is produced in the West End by Matthew Byam Shaw for Playful Productions, Robert Fox and Andy Harries, are now on sale.
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