From Winston Churchill (Joel Wirkkunen) to Margaret Thatcher (Erin Ormond), through Tony Blair and David Cameron (Jay Hindle), the Queen (Anna Galvin) has held a weekly meeting, or “audience,” with each of her 12 prime ministers.
Peter Morgan’s imaginary glimpses into these tête-à-têtes provide a droll and fascinating portrayal of a lioness of history—one who, over the span of six decades, transforms from an uncertain young monarch into the revered figurehead of today.
As the 2013 stage adaptation, bookended by a 2006 film version (The Queen) and 2015 Netflix series (The Crown), The Audience is yet another popular play that demonstrates Peter Morgan’s penchant for dramatizing the lives of leading British figures.
His 2006 hit production of Frost/Nixon presented the infamous interviews of Richard Nixon by British TV host David Frost, later adapted into the 2008 film of the same name. Following suit, the international success of The Audience has swept stages across Europe and North America as Morgan reworked the concept into the 2015 miniseries, The Crown.
Director Sarah Rodgers who recently helmed the beloved Pride and Prejudice on the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, says “The Audience is similar to The Crown in that it reveals the Queen as a real person who is charming, witty, flawed and vulnerable. Peter Morgan’s clever and honest portrayal of her humanity has endeared audiences across the world because he gives us a chance to connect with this intriguing woman.”
Noting the differences between the stage play and the TV series, Rodgers adds, “Unlike the The Crown, which has events unfolding in chronological order, The Audience has a narrator, played by Bernard Cuffling, who directly addresses the audience to share key pieces of information with them, then seamlessly steps into the action of the scenes as the Queen’s Equerry and aid. This device helps us move from scene-to-scene in non-chronological order while, ultimately, creating a great sense of dramatic tension and surprise.”
The Audience also casts Anna Galvin’s real-life daughter, Bianca Sanchez Galvin, as Young Elizabeth. Both characters frequently share the stage to discuss matters of the monarchy, serving as a reflection of Elizabeth’s evolution from Princess to Queen and the expectations thrust on her from a young age.
Rodgers notes, “Anna and Bianca are the spitting images of Queen Elizabeth at her respective ages, and it’s breathtaking to see this mother-daughter acting duo embody these dynamic roles.”
Directed by Sarah Rodgers, The Audience stars Anna Galvin, Chris Britton, Bernard Cuffling, Ted Cole, Alen Dominguez, Bianca Sanchez Galvin, Mike Gill, Jay Hindle, Brian Linds, Tom McBeath, David Marr, Melissa Oei, Erin Ormond and Joel Wirkkunen.
Arts Club Theatre Presents The Audience
Dates: Jan. 26 to Feb. 26; Tues. to Thurs., 7:30 pm; Fri., Sat., 8 pm; Weds, 1:30 pm; Sat., Sun., 2 pm
Venue: Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, 2750 Granville Street, Vancouver
Tickets: $29 and up including taxes and fees, available online or via phoning 604.687.1644
Photo by David Cooper.