Critics bow to Helen Mirren's Queen in The Audience
Mirren brilliantly reprises her Oscar-winning cinema role in new stage play by Peter Morgan
What you need to know
Helen Mirren reprises her Oscar-winning film role as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience, a new stage play by Peter Morgan, who also wrote the 2006 film The Queen. It has opened at the Gielgud Theatre in London's West End.
The Audience is directed by Stephen Daldry, best known for his films Billy Elliot and The Hours. The play goes behind the closed doors of Buckingham Palace to imagine the monarch's weekly audience with each of her 12 prime ministers, charting the passage of her life through 60 years of British politics.
The play also features Edward Fox as Winston Churchill and Richard McCabe as Harold Wilson. Until 15 June.
What the critics like
Helen Mirren gives "a magnificent performance" as the Queen, says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. Daldry's "pitch-perfect production" penetrates the mystery surrounding the Queen with "compassion, grace, affection and humour".
Helen Mirren's "tartly humorous and profoundly human" portrayal of the Queen makes The Audience "a right royal great night out", says Paul Taylor in The Independent.
"Mirren is superb," says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. Despite already winning an Oscar in this role, she "newly inhabits the character" with playful touches, sensitivity and "an air of dignified solitude".
What they don't like
Morgan's speculative and essentially static play feels like a series of sketches, says Michael Billington in The Guardian. But he's probably "struck box-office gold" again, thanks to another "faultless" performance from "the naturally majestic Mirren". ·