Monday, March 4, 2013


Review by Peter Brown
2 March 2013
Helen Mirren (Queen Elizabeth II), Haydn Gwynne (Margaret Thatcher),Richard McCabe (Harold Wilson), Paul Ritter (John Major) (Photos by Johan Persson) 

Every week – when the relevant parties are in London – Queen Elizabeth II meets with her current Prime Minister for a cosy chat about … well, we don't actually know what they talk about because no minutes are published, or even kept. And so far as I am aware none of the 12 Prime Ministers who have served during the Queen's 61 year reign has given anything more than a vague hint of what their discussions have covered. So, how do you make a play out of meetings like that?

Peter Morgan's answer to that tricky question is to blend fact and fiction. He draws on what is commonly known about the personalities of various Prime Ministers and the issues they faced during their periods in office, then mixes-in the character of a shrewd, hard-working and intelligent monarch, and finally tops it all off with completely fictional but rather witty dialogue. The recipe proves immensely successful so that the final theatrical dish is humorously entertaining, well-observed, and has enough in the way of authenticity to be (just about) believable.

In the lead, as Queen Elizabeth II, is Helen Mirren who has already had a fairly decent rehearsal for the part, as she won an oscar in 2006 for her portrayal of the same person in the film 'The Queen'. With the kind of experience she has acquired, perhaps she may be missing a few performances in the near future in order to stand in for HMQ while she recovers from her current illness.


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