‘The Audience’ Final Performance at Gerald Schoenfeld Theater – Review

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth with her prime ministers

By Jonathan Spira on 29 June 2015
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Helen Mirren will see you now.

That isn’t, of course, a line from the play “The Audience,” although the show, which opened in March for a limited engagement, featured Mirren in her second role as Her Majesty (the first was in the movie “The Queen,” for which she received an Oscar).  The final performance of the play was Sunday.

The premise of “The Audience” is the weekly meeting between Elizabeth II and her prime minister in the most private of settings, during which everything from matters of state to personal disclosures come up – all with the understanding that neither party will ever repeat in public what was said.


For over 60 years, Queen Elizabeth has, with minor exceptions, met with each of her 12 prime ministers the first of which was Sir Winston Churchill (Dakin Matthews), whom she met shortly after the death of her father in 1952.  These meetings, which carry on to the present day are depicted by fictionalized discussions between the two parties.

In two and a half hours, the play gives us a behind-the scenes look at how the queen might perform some of her duties, revealing which prime ministers the queen was closest to and which ones she didn’t particularly care for.  It also showcases Mirren as a quick-change artist as she portrays the queen at different ages, effortlessly journeying back and forth through time.  Mirren returns to youthfulness (and also ages) right before our eyes in a sleight of hand one seldom sees on Broadway.  (She also interacts with a very young Princess Elizabeth, masterfully portrayed by Elizabeth Teeter, whose mother was seated next to me in the audience the day of the final performance.)

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