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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Theatre review: The Audience has a narrow appeal

British political junkies or die-hard royal watchers will enjoy this fictionalized history lesson

At the top of The Audience we are informed by an Equerry played by the affable Bernard Cuffling, that Queen Elizabeth II sits down with the British Prime Minister for 20 minutes each week. During these meetings she hears about news from the government of-the-day. She is under strict protocol not to interfere with the governing of the country, but merely be informed.

What follows is a series of imagined scenes with various Prime Ministers during Elizabeth’s rule. From Winston Churchill to David Cameron the encounters provide an insight into the politics of the time.  Sometimes they even share in a stiff drink or tea.

If you find British Prime Ministers interesting, you will no doubt find these visits enjoyable. As will die-hard royal watchers, no doubt. For the rest though, it all adds up to very little, with The Audience as exciting as watching two people chat about politics can be.

The only real stakes come into the play when a fiery Margaret Thatcher, played by the dynamic Erin Ormond, bursts in to accuse the Queen of playing politics and undermining her authority.

Anna Galvin plays Her Majesty with grace and dignity. There are some sweetly sentimental scenes when she talks with her younger self, portrayed by Galvin’s own daughter, the bright Bianca Sanchez Galvin.

Director Sarah Rodgers keeps the two and half hour show clipping along and the design team has done a lovely job. Unfortunately, watching people chat about past British politics is simply not that engaging.

When the Queen’s corgis came on stage though, the entire audience could not have been happier.

The Audience by Peter Morgan. Directed by Sarah Rodger. An Arts Club Theatre Company production. On stage at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage (2750 Granville St, Vancouver) until February 26. Visit for tickets and information.

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