Its a bit like the game of charades. Is it a film or is it a show? Well the truth is that out trip to see An Audience was a bit of both.
Let me explain. An Audience, starring Helen Mirren, is a stage show presented by the National Theatre but in an attempt to bring theatre to a wider audience a number of their shows are televised live and shown at selected cinema's. However, on this occasion An Audience was so popular that a further screening was hosted at the Tamworth Odeon (Tamworth - that hotbed of thespian passion). So what we ended up with was a stage performance from the Gielgud Theatre, filmed live and re run as a repeat!
OK, so that's the technical stuff out of the way. What about the production?
Its based on the curious fact that every Tuesday (except Tony Blair who liked Wednesdays) the sitting PM pays a visit to Buckingham Palace and has an audience with the Queen, and there have been 12 of them over her 60 year reign.
These audiences are not minuted or recorded in any way and neither the Queen or her PM's have ever revealed what has been said. So, you are a stressed PM who, during your term in office, sees the Queen 1:1 maybe 70 times - what passes between them.
Its pure speculation and this show attempts to fill the blank canvas, and does so with aplom. There are great cameos featuring the likes of Anthony Eden during the Suez Crisis through the less kind interpretations of Major, Thatcher and Brown. It it therefore a canter through the post war political scene, each PM sitting in the therapists chair baring their soul to the one constant strand in the shape of the monarch.
Its also an interesting insight into the changing life of the Monarch who has had to endure more than a few brick bats herself over the years. A measured transformation from a little princess in her palace to the woman of immense integrity and stature we see today. (Hmm, that's high praise from someone who would never have described himself as a Royalist).
It a compelling production written by Peter Morgan which drags you in and even the fact that its a televised repeat shown in a cinema doesn't detract from its power. Maybe that was one of the most interesting things - the reaction of the audience. It was theatre behaviour in a cinema. The audience laughed, engaged - and even went out to get ice cream during the full length intermission.
So this worked on two levels.
1. The show was great - entertainment and education packed in a fast paced 2.5 hour package
2. The theatre in the cinema concept took you 90% of the way to a live performance, at a fraction of the price and co convenient.
A good evening's entertainment supplemented with fish and chips from Glascote Chip Shop - I know how to show a girl a good time!