Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review of TimeLine Theatre Company's The Audience

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Audience. It was by Peter Morgan and it was directed by Nick Bowling. It was about Queen Elizabeth II's (Janet Ulrich Brooks) relationships with her prime ministers (Matt DeCaro, Carmen Roman, and Mark Ulrich) throughout her reign and which one was her favorite. They drink a lot of tea and booze and talk about politics and their lives. It is about developing relationships, government, and how being royalty isn't actually as powerful as you think it is. I think this is a really interesting show. It shows you behind the scenes of the relationship between royalty and the British Parliament. This show had great acting, a fascinating storyline, and made me want to learn more about the British government.

I think this play was really interesting because they showed Elizabeth as an actual vulnerable person. You don't think of that when you think of royalty. But this play shows you her memories as a child (Audrey Edwards and Sophie Ackerman at alternating performances) and how she was worried about her father becoming king and that she might mess up being queen. Brooks plays Elizabeth from her early twenties through her late eighties. I felt like I was seeing Elizabeth grow up. The way Brooks differentiated each age was phenomenal. When she is young she is uncertain about what she is doing, but as she ages she get more confident. Brooks adjusted her energy level, the way she talked, and the way she moved. It was really fascinating to watch. I have never seen her in a role like this before, and she just did it perfectly. During her her first meeting chronologically, she meets with Winston Churchill (DeCaro) and she is nervous and doesn't really know what to do, so she starts trying to engage in a conversation but Winston is not having that. They are drinking tea in the first meeting, but as her reign progresses, she starts drinking harder beverages. She starts becoming more confident and she starts insisting on understanding political and military situations.

Elizabeth's relationship with Harold Wilson (DeCaro) was very different from any other in the show. She connected with him and talked to him person to person more than with the other Prime Ministers. Wilson didn't really think he'd get the job, which made it hard for him to get started. But Elizabeth had just become more confident in her job, so I think she was sort of a guide for him. They had empathy for each other and I think that is why they became such good friends in the course of the show. I think it was really sad how Wilson by the end of the play had lost his amazing power to be able to read over something and have it completely memorized. They had this book that he'd read to show off his amazing abilities when he had met earlier with Elizabeth in Scotland. It was sad to see them try to recreate that memory later.

I had mixed feeling about Margaret Thatcher (Roman)--not about the actor but about the character. The actor made me hate Thatcher and admire her the same time. I think Thatcher was a badass, but she had very conservative ideas and would always stick by them and didn't really care about anyone else's opinions at all. I really loved her costume (designed by Theresa Ham), it looked exactly like something very Margaret Thatcher. It was buttoned up and she had like a silk scarf tied in a bow that looks like it is devouring her. It showed how uptight she was. She is usually very poised, and in the scene she has panic, but I didn't really feel sorry for her because it seemed like she was taking out all of her anger on Elizabeth and not listening to her, which is something Thatcher did in her career. I thought it was sad that Thatcher didn't have a good relationship with Elizabeth since she was the only woman Prime Minister in this play. I thought the difference between Thatcher and the other character this actor played, Bobo McDonald, who was Elizabeth's nanny, was just amazing. She would walk off stage as one of the people who loved Elizabeth the most and helped take care of her for so many years, and she would walk back on as someone who didn't respect Elizabeth at all.

John Major (Ulrich) was a really interesting character. He was so awkward and Elizabeth was slightly annoyed by it, which made for a funny scene because she just got slightly more annoyed as the scene went on. She had learned that these meetings weren't chitchats, but he was trying to make them into a chitchat because he was awkward and couldn't get into the conversations that they needed to have. I thought it was funny how, when Elizabeth finds out his father used to be a trapeze artist, she thinks it is exotic. And he points out that her father was the King of England and he thinks that is exotic. This shows you that their lives are exotic to the other person because that is the life they didn't get to live.

People who would like this show are people who like stories about the monarchy, empathetic relationships, and ravenous silk scarves. I think that people should go see this show. It had really great acting and really accentuated the range of many actors. It made me think about a side of Queen Elizabeth I'd never thought of before.

Photos: Lara Goetsch

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