By Peter Morgan
Directed by Peter Harrold
Produced by Chrish Kresge and Caroline Gelb
For sixty years, Queen Elizabeth II has met with each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a private weekly audience. The discussions are utterly secret, even to the royal and ministerial spouses. Peter Morgan imagines these meetings over the decades of the Queen’s remarkable reign through Prime Ministers from Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher to the 2015 incumbent David Cameron. The Audience is a glimpse into the woman behind the crown and the moments that have shaped the modern monarchy.
Wednesday, Dec. 11 – 6:30 – 9:30 pm
Thursday, Dec. 12 – 6:30 – 9:30 pm
Saturday, Dec. 14 – 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
6314 Bannockburn Dr
Bethesda, MD 20817
Jan. Weekdays: 7th, 9th, 14th, 16th, 21st, 23rd, 28th, and 30th from 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm.
Jan. Saturdays: 11th, 18th, and 15th at 11:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Feb Weekdays: 4th, 6th, 11th, 13th, 18th, 20th, 25th, 27th from 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm.
Feb. Saturdays: 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th from 11 am – 1 pm.
Mar. 3rd and 5th from 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm.
Fri Mar. 13, 2020 – Thu Mar. 19, 2020
Mar. 20, 2020 – Apr. 4, 2020
Characters (in order of appearance):
Equerry (age 50-70): The Queen’s Equerry acts as her personal assistant and is the person in her household who has the contact with her and is in a position of total confidence with the Queen. He is often of a military background, and has always had a long period of service in the household. In the play, he also acts as a narrator, having a lot of individual speeches with the audience, setting the scene and explaining what is happening.
John Major (age 55-65): John Major was the Prime Minister who followed Mrs. Thatcher in 1990. He is generally regarded as the least likely Prime Minister of history, and is set apart from the rest by never having attended University at all, let alone Oxford or Cambridge like most of his fellow PMs. He is regarded as a rather colorless character, but did succeed in getting re-elected before losing in 1997 to Tony Blair.
The Queen (age 20-80!): The Queen is now the United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch, having come to the throne in 1952. In this play we see her from the age of 22 until her 80s, and all the ages in- between. We see her in playful mood, in serious conflict with her Prime Ministers’ proposed courses of actions, and being unable to conceal her preferences among them, both positive and negative. And throughout all this time, she has never expressed publicly any wavering of her support for her government. She is onstage in this play for all except a few of the Equerry’s scenes.
Winston Churchill (age 78): Of all the Prime Ministers of the UK, this is the one who needs almost no introduction, not least because of three recent movies centered in his life. In this play, we find him at age 78 having just returned to power after the humiliation of his post-war defeat, with the guidance of the Queen in her new life as monarch his primary concern.
Young Elizabeth (age 11): The Queen as a young girl of eleven, who interacts with her grown-up self. We see her learning her role in life, at times questioning its restrictions (she did not go to a regular school and only leaves the Palace with her parents), but displaying a native intelligence and sense of duty.
Harold Wilson (age 50-65): Harold Wilson became Prime Minister in 1964, heading the first Labour government since 1951. He was a brilliant man, who got to Oxford from a grammar school and became a lecturer in Economic History at Oxford and one of the youngest dons in history at the age of 21. He won three elections and resigned abruptly in 1975. He developed a very warm relationship with the Queen and was reportedly her favorite.
Bobo Macdonald (40-60): Bobo Macdonald was the Queen’s Scottish nanny from a very early age. This meant that she saw more of the Queen than her mother did, and the relationship between them lasted her lifetime and was very close indeed. The choice of a Scottish girl as nanny reflected the Queen Mother’s deep fondness for the country, where she had her own house after the death of her husband, King George VI.
Gordon Brown (age 56-8): Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair as PM in 2007, having been made to wait much longer than he had hoped and expected. A Scottish politician who excelled as Chancellor (Treasury Secretary) and who had a deep commitment to international development, he quickly found himself out of his depth as PM and lost his first general election after 3 years very badly.
Anthony Eden (age 59) : Anthony Eden also had to wait a long time to succeed Winston Churchill, and his time as Prime Minister was dominated by the fiasco of the Suez crisis in 1956. It is this event upon which the play focuses, with the Queen showing serious misgivings about his policies and showing her mettle as the monarch. He had been a strikingly handsome man who visibly aged during his time as PM.
Margaret Thatcher (age 50-60): Mrs. Thatcher is probably the best known in the US of modern Prime Ministers, not least because of her very close relationship with Ronald Reagan. She was a middle-class girl who rose to the top through her brilliance and determination, and, as we see in the play, she was not afraid to speak her mind to anyone at any time. It is said that her relationship with the Queen was far from easy.
David Cameron (age 44): David Cameron was one of the youngest British Prime Ministers, and rose very fast from relative obscurity to become PM, albeit from a background of wealth and privilege. He is now famous for his decision to hold the referendum that resulted in Brexit. Like Tony Blair before him, he became PM by leading his party firmly towards the center of British politics.
Minor speaking roles that will probably be doubled up from other cast members: Tony Blair (50), the second longest serving PM in modern history, but who has a cameo role in this play. A Security
man/Detective (any age) who inspects the Audience room for bugs. The Archbishop of Canterbury (60-70), who presides over the coronation. Non-speaking, but critical roles: 3-4 ladies in waiting who assist the Queen in changing her clothes and wigs (on stage) to transform her from her youth to elder age and back