Kicking off three days of late nights and early mornings (a concert on Thursday, another show on Friday along with 6am starts for college!) was a performance of The Audience, a show I’ve been looking forward to seeing for a while now and can gladly confirm it has not disappointed me. It imagines what happens in the Queen’s weekly meetings with her Prime Ministers, and serves as a really interesting history lesson about the major political figures and events of the last 60 years.
The stage effortlessly transports you to a private meeting room in Buckingham palace, making use of perspective to give depth to the stage which leads to two tiny-looking thrones in the distance. Lighting is used to project a regal carpet onto the floor, and all the props used, including a large and impressive chandelier, help to reiterate the royal setting.
Bob Crowley’s costume design is similarly impressive, with Kristin Scott Thomas having to perform several on stage quick changes including wigs and dresses! This is an art in itself, and I loved imagining how all the different outfits fitted underneath and around each other. The changes in costume also help to transport you to different stages of the Queen’s reign, with tighter-fitting dresses giving way to elegant straight cuts with her latter Prime Ministers. My favourite costume has to be the beautiful coronation dress, which also ended up being one of my favourite scenes in the play as the Queen remembers her coronation at the end of the first act.
Kristin Scott Thomas is undoubtedly a star of this production, her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II is both funny and touching with some real emotional moments. I was interested to see how the character of Harold Wilson fits into the play as Richard McCabe has just won the Tony for playing this part in New York. I’m happy to report that his London counterpart, Nicholas Woodeson, is brilliant and perhaps my favourite Prime Minister of the play (and seemingly the Queen’s too!). I did also love Mark Dexter’s scene as David Cameron – I won’t spoil too much but it is really, really funny and its mentions of the Fifa scandal and EU negotiations made it seem like it probably could have happened last week.
A definite hit in my books, and one that I would be happy to go back and see again, even if only find out if David Cameron makes any different jokes!
The Audience is playing at the Apollo Theatre until 25 July.