Theatre Review – The Audience – Nuffield

I am fascinated with anything to do with the Royal Family so when I read that this was coming I was really excited to see it.

The concept of it intrigued me and the fact that Helen Mirren played The Queen in the original stage version was a good indication that it was going to be a really good show, she doesn’t put her name to just anything!

It’s based on the weekly meetings HRH has with her Prime Ministers and is told over a period of 65 years.

These meetings are confidential so this play is essentially a work of fiction however it feels incredibly real.

We meet 13 PMs throughout the duration of this play, all but 1 played incredibly by Paul Kemp, it’s amazing how a slight change of clothes, posture and a voice can turn him from Winston Churchill to Tony Blair.

It’s a very simple set up this show, just 2 chairs facing each other and 2 people – albeit incredibly influential people – having a chat.

I won’t pretend that I understood exactly what was going on through the whole of this play, I’m not a big follower of politics so although I knew what was being discussed when talking about major issues that have happened within my lifetime and within history there were bits where I was a little bit lost.

That being said it was incredibly enjoyable, although there are some hugely serious issues discussed – as you would expect given the subject matter – there are a lot of funny moments. Mostly courtesy of John Major and Tony Blair.

I found it fascinating and inciteful and in some odd way humanised our Queen a little bit for me.

It was hilarious in places – Teresa Mays appearance probably the most notable of those (and shortest) – moving in others. It was a real eye opener.

The acting in this is incredible. Not only does Faye Castelow ooze regality you really would think she was the Queen but the supporting cast are just as fantastic.

The star of this for me though is Paul Kemp. The changes he makes so quickly in one scene to be literally every PM he plays is just incredible. Its a very long script to learn so to remember all those lines as different characters and different mannerisms without getting them confused must be really hard work.

Its a great play, well acted and hugely entertaining, as well as educational.

Highly recommended.

The Audience is on at Nuffield until June 22nd, tickets available from www.nstheatres.co.uk

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