Entertainment & Arts

Helen Mirren rules Broadway as Queen Elizabeth II

Dame Helen Mirren on the stage of New York's Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Audience had its opening night on Broadway on Sunday

Dame Helen Mirren has received warm reviews for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the Broadway transfer of The Audience.

Peter Morgan's play imagines private meetings between the monarch and her prime ministers over her 60-year reign.

Variety critic Marilyn Stasio wrote: "Maybe she'll add a Tony to her collection for her triumphant return to Buckingham Palace in The Audience."

Ben Brantley of the New York Times described Dame Helen as "smashing".

Dame Helen won the best actress prize at both the Olivier and Evening Standard awards when she first played the role in London two years ago.

The play, directed by Stephen Daldry and written by Peter Morgan, also features political figures such as Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron.

It also sees the Queen transform from a young, inexperienced monarch to steely figurehead.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dame Helen won awards for her role as the Queen in the West End production

The Huffington Post's theatre critic, Michael Glitz, wrote: "None of it would matter without Mirren... It's hard to imagine anyone doing it better.

"Mirren is marvellous, letting the few moments of emotional depth pass by without making too much of them."

The New York Post's Elisabeth Vincentelli concurred, writing: "To the surprise of exactly no one, Helen Mirren is absolutely terrific as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience.

"The physical transformation itself is a lot of fun - how can you not see something that happens right in front of your eyes?!

"But it pales compared with the way Mirren switches roles from an established, ageing ruler to a young woman - not yet crowned - who holds her own against a colossal statesman swinging his weight around."

'Coup de theatre'

Time Out New York's David Cote also heaped praise on the British actress, saying she "transforms brilliantly... from the grandmotherly 69-year-old comforting an insecure John Major... to the 25-year-old heir apparent nervously schooled by Winston Churchill."

Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune described the production as a "coup de theatre". "Watching Mirren seem to peel off years and cares," he wrote, "is nothing short of a dazzling experience".

David Rooney, writing in The Hollywood Reporter, observed: "Morgan's take on the Queen in these fictionalised meetings is daubed in skewed sentiment, but Mirren sells it with impeccable finesse."

The production marks Dame Helen's third Broadway outing, following performances in Turgenev's A Month in the Country and Strindberg's Dance of Death, opposite Sir Ian McKellen. Both productions earned the actress Tony nominations.

The Audience will return to London's West End next month, in an updated version starring Kristin Scott Thomas.

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