The Audience (2013 play)

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"The Audience (play)" redirects here. For the 1930 play sometimes known under that title, see The Public (play).
The Audience
The Audience.jpg
Written by Peter Morgan
Date premiered 15 February 2013 (2013-02-15)
Place premiered Gielgud Theatre
Original language English
Setting Buckingham Palace

The Audience is a play by the British playwright and screenwriter Peter Morgan.[1] The play centres around weekly meetings, called audiences, between Queen Elizabeth II and her prime ministers and premiered in the West End in 2013, at the Gielgud Theatre. A Broadway production opened in 2015, and a West End revival is scheduled for 2015.


The Audience is centred on the weekly audiences given by Queen Elizabeth II to prime ministers from her accession in 1952 to the present day.[2] Advice regarding the political and historical content of the weekly audiences was provided by Professor Vernon Bogdanor (Emeritus Professor of Government at Oxford University) and former Tutor of David Cameron, the current Prime Minister.[3]

Production history[edit]

The Audience is written by British playwright and screenwriter Peter Morgan.[4] Its premiere production opened in the West End at the Gielgud Theatre on 15 February 2013, with its press night on 5 March.[5] The play featured Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II; the actress had played the same role in the 2006 film The Queen, which was written by Morgan.[6] The play was directed by Stephen Daldry,[7] with design by Bob Crowley,[8] lighting design by Rick Fisher, sound by Paul Arditti, music by Paul Englishby and video design by Ian William Galloway.[9] A typical West End performance ran two hours and 30 minutes, including one interval.[10]

Following the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who is featured during the plays run, playwright Peter Morgan made a speech to the audience to mark her passing.[11] The production was broadcast live to cinemas as part of National Theatre Live on 13 June 2013.[12] The initial broadcast broke the record for most people watching a production live since the scheme began, with nearly 80,000 people watching in the UK and 30,000 people in North America.[13] Further encore screenings were later broadcast.[14]

The play began a limited Broadway engagement from 8 March to 28 June 2015, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, with previews from 14 February 2015.[15] Helen Mirren reprises her role of Queen Elizabeth II in this production,[16] alongside fellow original cast members Geoffrey Beevers, Michael Elwyn, Richard McCabe and Rufus Wright.[17]

A West End revival is scheduled at the Apollo Theatre, opening on 5 May 2015, following previews from 21 April 2015,[18] with Kristin Scott Thomas as Queen Elizabeth II.[19]


At the 2013 Olivier Awards, Helen Mirren received the best actress Olivier for her portrayal of the Queen,[20] while Richard McCabe received the best supporting actor nod for his role as Harold Wilson.[21] Helen Mirren also received best actress at the Evening Standard Awards,[22] although the win was surrounded in controversy after it was revealed she had been tied with another actress and critic Henry Hitchings had changed his vote following his first choice being moved into a new category.[23] Three of the award's judges later resigned.[24]

At the 2014 WhatsOnStage awards, voted for by theatregoers, Mirren won the award for best actress, Haydn Gwynne best supporting actress for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher, and Peter Morgan best new play.[25]

Principal roles and original cast[edit]

Character West End performer[9] Broadway performer 2015 West End performer
Queen Elizabeth II Helen Mirren Kristin Scott Thomas
John Major Paul Ritter Dylan Baker Michael Gould
Gordon Brown Nathaniel Parker Rod McLachlan Gordon Kennedy
Harold Wilson Richard McCabe Nicholas Woodeson
Winston Churchill Robert Hardy (withdrew before press night for health reasons[26])
Edward Fox
Dakin Matthews David Calder
Anthony Eden Michael Elwyn David Robb
Margaret Thatcher Haydn Gwynne Judith Ivey Sylvestra Le Touzel
David Cameron Rufus Wright Mark Dexter
James Callaghan David Peart Tony Ward
Equerry Geoffrey Beevers David Peart
Young Elizabeth Bebe Cave
Maya Gerber
Nell Williams
Sadie Sink
Elizabeth Teeter
Marnie Brighton
Madeleine Jackson-Smith
Izzy Meikle-Small


  1. ^ Michael Billington, "The Audience – review" The Guardian (London), 5 March 2013
  2. ^ Rentoul, John (27 January 2013). "Yes, Prime Ministers!". The Independent. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Audience: May I speak freely, Your Majesty?". The Telegraph. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Why I wanted to make The Audience public". The Audience. 13 January 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "London Theatre News, Reviews, Interviews". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Helen Mirren to bring The Queen to Broadway". The Independent. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Helen Mirren gives a magnificent performance as the Queen in Peter Morgan's marvellous play The Audience at the Gielgud Theatre, says Charles Spencer.". The Telegraph. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Edward Fox steps in to play opposite Helen Mirren in Peter Morgan's play after Robert Hardy stands down due to injury". The Guardian. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Edward Fox Will Replace Injured Robert Hardy in London World Premiere of The Audience". Playbill. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Another Royal Outing for Writer Peter Morgan". London Theatreland. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Peter Morgan Will Speak of Late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Prior to April 8 Performance of The Audience". Playbill. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Helen Mirren play The Audience to be broadcast live in cinemas". The Guardian. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Cinema screening of Helen Mirren play breaks record". BBC News. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Writer Peter Morgan and actor Helen Mirren's stage reprise of her film role draws in a worldwide audience of 110,000". The Guardian. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "Helen Mirren Will Hold Court On Broadway Sooner Than Expected in The Audience". Playbill. 22 December 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  16. ^ Purcell, Carey. "A Royal Performance! The Audience, With Helen Mirren, Opens on Broadway Tonight", 8 March 2015
  17. ^ "London Cast Members Will Join Helen Mirren on Broadway in The Audience". Playbill. 30 September 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "Peter Morgan's play will run concurrently in London and New York". Whats On Stage. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "Kristin Scott Thomas to star as the Queen in return of The Audience". The Guardian. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  20. ^ "Helen Mirren Will Bring Royalty to Broadway in Limited Run of The Audience". Playbill. 6 August 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  21. ^ "Oliviers: Mirren crowned best actress, Curious Incident wins seven". BBC News. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  22. ^ "Dame Helen Mirren reigns at the Evening Standard Theatre awards". The Telegraph. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  23. ^ "Awards judges resign over Dame Helen Mirren 'fix'". BBC News. 16 December 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  24. ^ "Controversy over Helen Mirren's Evening Standard theatre award after judges resign". The Guardian. 16 December 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  25. ^ "WhatsOnStage 2014 Award Winners". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  26. ^ "Robert Hardy withdraws from Churchill role in Helen Mirren play". BBC. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 

External links[edit]