Theatre Review: The Audience

The cast and Director Ben Todd (centre) of Therry Theatre’s royal production, “The Audience”

Presented by Therry Theatre
Reviewed 4th November 2021

British Playwright Peter Morgan’s play was first performed in 2015. Since then it has been altered and performed in both London and on Broadway, going through several changes. Being based on the meetings between the British monarch and her Prime Ministers, usually referred to as audiences, the main players are The Queen and various Prime Ministers. Some of her Prime Ministers were always omitted, but James Callaghan was removed to allow the inclusion of Tony Blair. Choosing, perhaps, the ministers that would provide the best dialogue, it would have been impossible to include all.

The setting is a light airy room in the palace, introduced to us by the Equerry (Lance Jones), who also directs Her Majesty’s Footmen (Toviyah Helps and Matthew Owens) to arrange the chairs. The precision is continued through the production, everything choreographed beautifully, including the on-stage costume changes for The Queen which happen almost without the audience noticing. Director Ben Todd’s set design is elegant and works remarkably well, lit just right by Richard Parkhill. Todd’s direction is as elegant as his set.

Gillan Cordell and Sandy Faithful should be congratulated for their costumes and their performance as dressers (blending into the background) and Anne-Louise Smith does a great job with the wigs.

Rebecca Kemp IS Queen Elizabeth II; she does a wonderful job of bringing the Regent to the stage, never losing that majesty that is required. Zara Blight plays the young Elizabeth with charm and a certain innocence. They handle the conversations between them well. Greg Janzow may not physically resemble the bulk of Winston Churchill but his portrayal gave us several echoes of the great man. Frank Cwiertniak played Churchill’s successor Anthony Eden, displaying an understanding of a difficult man who resigned because of ill health caused by stress. Other ministers to enjoy an audience were Tony Blair (Ben Cosford), Gordon Brown (Cwiertniak) David Cameron (Cosford), all presenting in a different light with different approaches.

Brad Martin seemed to fit the bill as John Major, the Prime Minister following Maggie Thatcher and reflected the compassionate side. Natasha Scholey was what you would expect of Maggie Thatcher, uncompromising and appearing hard. Paul Briske really enjoyed himself as Harold Wilson, true to my memories of seeing him during the height of his power. A standout performance. The rapport between Wilson and Elizabeth is well presented. Throughout all the audiences Jones as the Equerry (with the Footmen) maintains the palace etiquette.

With Greg Janzow as Archbishop of Canterbury, the coronation scene complete with robes, orb and sceptre was a great ending to act one, superbly handled, pomp and ceremony but not overblown.

This royal production of The Audience is definitely one to make sure you are in the audience to see.

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Venue: Arts Theatre
Season: 4-13 November 2021
Duration: 2 hrs 30 mins (including interval)

Tickets: $14 – $29

Bookings: https://www.trybooking.com/BMHBG or phone: 0411 924 566 Mondays and Tuesdays from 12 noon until 5 pm, Wednesdays to Saturdays from 12 noon until late

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