As previously rumoured, Helen Mirren will revisit the role that won her an Oscar - that of Queen Elizabeth II - when she plays the monarch on stage next year.
Directed by Stephen Daldry, the play centres on the Queen's relationship with the 12 prime ministers who have served during her 60-year reign - from Winston Churchill to David Cameron.
Speaking to the Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye, Mirren said: "I think it's about what power means and how people handle it. Not the Queen, incidentally, because she is comparatively powerless. But how power is held in the hands of these men - and one woman - and the effect that has on their personalities and their psyche.
"In the beginning, the Queen is the young, nervous, unknowledgeable one. But as she progresses through them, they become the nervous ones. She's the one constant, through a revolving door of prime ministers."
She admitted to approaching the role with some trepidation. "I certainly don't want to be known as the actress who played the Queen," she said, referring to her Oscar-winning turn in The Queen, the 2006 film that was also written by Morgan.
Among her recent theatre credits Mirren, who was made a Dame in 2003, played the title role in Jean Racine's Phèdre at the National Theatre in 2009, the production that launched the theatre's NT Live scheme.
According to press material: "For sixty years Elizabeth II has met each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace - a meeting like no other in British public life - it is private. Both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said. Not even to their spouses. The Audience breaks this contract of silence - and imagines a series of pivotal meetings between the Downing Street incumbents and their Queen."
Director Stephen Daldry has a raft of West End credits to his name, including Billy Elliot The Musical and An Inspector Calls. He has also helmed a number of films, including Billy Elliot and Oscar-winner The Hours, and recently directed the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games.
Peter Morgan's other plays include Frost/Nixon, which premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in 2006 before transferring to the West End, Broadway and the big screen. His other film credits include The Damned United, The Last King of Scotland, State of Play and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
The Audience is currently booking to 15 June 2013.
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