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  The Audience Reviews
The Audience
The Audience

The Audience
TimeLine Theatre Company
Thru - Dec 3, 2017

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TimeLine Theatre Company

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Recommended

"...Morgan (who also penned "The Queen" and "Frost/Nixon") knows to write unpretentious plays that get you talking over dinner. He's no absurdist stylist, or anything like, but his work always contextualizes human frailties in a broader context. Clearly, he regards the monarch as every bit as useful as elected political leaders who can peek, by the nature of democracy, only through a thinner window of experience. The queen, though, has been drinking tea long enough to know that all problems and ideas come around again and again. They just come in different strengths and flavors."
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Chris Jones



Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...Now, you can now have an audience of your own with the Queen by way of TimeLine Theatre's superb Chicago premiere of "The Audience," Peter Morgan's whip-smart portrait of a woman whose character, intelligence, biting humor and quiet ferocity emerges in the most surprising ways."
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Hedy Weiss



Daily Herald- Highly Recommended

"...The play's most charming moments are between Elizabeth and blue-collar Labour leader Harold Wilson (an affably blustering DeCaro), who calls her a proper "Labour lady." Separated by class, united by compassion, they are as close to being friends as they can be, something "The Audience's" penultimate scene poignantly suggests."
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Barbara Vitello



Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

"...She's astute, conscientious, impressively disciplined yet capable of warmth-and, in this staging directed by Nick Bowling, also a tad dull. Which comes as a surprise, considering that she's played by the usually marvelous Janet Ulrich Brooks, who's merely very good here. The problem, I think, is that Brooks doesn't make enough room for subversion. Her Elizabeth is sympathetic even in her foibles."
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Tony Adler



Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...Playwright Peter Morgan has made a career of documenting the alleged activities of the powerful and privileged. His latest roman a clef proposes to eavesdrop on the weekly briefing sessions ( "audiences" ) between the designated leader of the Commonwealth and its chief executive officers, the Prime Ministers—eight of whom we meet in the course of our visit. Since these real-life interviews were, and are, conducted in strict confidence, Morgan is free to speculate."
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Mary Shen Barnidge



Time Out Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...But as a portrait of the queen, or even of the office, The Audience is timid. Morgan portrays Her Royal Highness as benevolent, engaged, well-read, occasionally conflicted, and mostly boring. The cast is quite impressive in its transformations, but the reliable Brooks doesn’t get the sartorial support that Mirren did; she barely even seems to get a change of wigs when playing Elizabeth from her twenties to her eighties, which underlines the play’s own repetitive dullness. Stripped of the royal frippery, The Audience is a collection of fine performances in search of a play."
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Kris Vire



Chicago On the Aisle- Recommended

"...Janet Ulrich Brooks reigns supreme as Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan's play "The Audience" at TimeLine Theatre. The poised, circumspect, droll and ever so slightly vulnerable performance by one of Chicago's most versatile actresses provides the constant heart in an otherwise uneven enterprise."
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Lawrence B. Johnson



Stage and Cinema- Highly Recommended

"...Morgan’s pointed, eloquent, and even comical dialogue never dares to “shine daylight on magic,” the kind of scrutiny that the Windsors most dread. That, of course, would kill the essential illusions of hereditary monarchy. Nonetheless, his Elizabeth, cunningly conveyed with “less is more” sangfroid by Brooks, and her calculatedly informative Prime Ministers (also including Ulrich’s feckless Gordon Brown), intricately conveyed by three master actors, are very present and accounted for. The Audience may lack the drive and dynamism of Shakespeare’s history plays, but that only proves its truth to our times. These delightful-to-disconcerting “dustups” between Crown and citizens include us all. Talk about a crucial consultation!"
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Lawrence Bommer



ChicagoCritic- Highly Recommended

"...The Audience makes history and powerful historical figures come to life, foibles and all. We see that Elizabeth II is more than a smiling lady with a handbag. Brooks is wonderful here. This is a gem!"
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Tom Williams



Around The Town Chicago- Recommended

"...I can tell you that the cast is superb! The acting is all Jeff-Award “worthy” for sure. In the role of Queen Elizabeth II, the amazing Janet Ulrich Brooks, who I adore in everything she does, but in this play, even more so! Equerry, our Narrator perse and the Queen’s “right hand” is played to perfection by David Lively and the other two men in this cast take on all the other male roles. Mark Ulrich handles John Major, Gordon Brown, Anthony Eden, David Cameron and a Scotland Yard Detective."
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Alan Bresloff



NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Peter Morgan's script finds an unexpected, but satisfactory, marriage with director Nick Bowling's intimate look at a leader who is known for her privacy. It is the delicate balance of presenting a sheltered, privileged royal yet a meticulous, empathetic civil servant that distinguishes Brooks' portrayal of the Queen. Brooks' telling reactions paint a slightly more complicated portrait than what Peter Morgan's written projection-respectful and positive, yet slightly mechanical-initially presents."
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Danielle Levsky



Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...What Morgan has written is a retrospective look at how HRH related and responded to those politically closest to her in a panorama of political history. We're able to see, through Queen Elizabeth's relationships with her Prime Ministers, how she regarded the advice and information they shared and how the changing character of this charming, intelligent, long-reigning monarch has evolved. Here the figurehead of Great Britain becomes a warm, flesh-and-blood human being, portrayed as a mixture of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Rather than being simply the Queen, Elizabeth is seen instead, thanks to a wonderfully measured performance by the luminous Janet Ulrich Brooks, as a thoughtful, caring woman."
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Colin Douglas



Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Recommended

"...Director Nick Bowling keeps the 11 scenes and their interludes flowing well and the performances by DeCaro and Ulrich are all quality, especially DeCaro’s Churchill and Harold Wilson and Ulrich’s Anthony Eden. Morgan has carved out distinct personalities for each of them, especially the intense Margaret Thatcher. It’s a question, however, how much the average TimeLine playgoer will be interested. It’s like English audiences being asked to care about a historical play portraying American political figures like Woodrow Wilson, James Buchanan, Gerald Ford, and Grover Cleveland."
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Dan Zeff



Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...If you adore historical fiction or are a history buff--- The Audience should likely be your top pick for a night out on the town."
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Amy Munice



The Hawk Chicago- Recommended

"...All in all Janet Ulrich Brooks offers up a performance worthy of a packed audience. Though this production will not be for everyone, those willing to lend a keen ear to this talented ensemble will not leave disappointed"
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Emily Schmidt



Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

"...When it comes to Queen Elizabeth II, there is probably no contemporary writer who knows more and is able to convey it with more humanity than Peter Morgan, author of The Queen and The Crown. He has made Her Royal Highness a focus of his most recent work, and his works consistently reveal the humanity behind the mystery of the royalty. His 2013 play The Audience, which starred Helen Mirren when it premiered in England and when it briefly played in Broadway, has now been brought to Chicago by Timeline Theatre, and this production is a revelation. In the same way that Morgan strips the Queen down to her humanity, Timeline's intimate production strips his play down from the theatricality of the West End/Broadway version with its huge cast, its many costume changes, and its corgis, to the basics of what it is about: two people meeting to talk in a private room. Timeline has configured its space in the round for this production, the audience surrounding four chairs scant feet from them, the only nod to aristocracy being the showy chandelier overhead."
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Karen Topham