Earlier this year, I had tickets for the four of us to see Helen Mirren in The Audience. Edward called me in the afternoon and said he had banged his head rather badly and was so sorry, but could I take them back. His head was very achy and he felt a bit sick. Luckily, the whole world wanted tickets and I sold them easily. At 6pm, Lazarus-like, he and the bots popped on their shoes and announced we were all off to the circus. They were all very pleased indeed that he felt so much better.
They all fell about giggling as the nervous new boy-on-a-unicycle took an unscripted tumble. They hooted with glee as the glamourous bird-in-a glittery-leotard contorted above Freddie's head. They sat stock still as, to a soundtrack of surreal gypsy punk, a lady and man danced, her costumed swirling, being pulled off, whisked away, removed with an incredible sleight of hand. There were over a dozen different dresses, spangled, satin, hooped, slinky. It was a breathtaking thing to see, a theatrical meeting of costume, dance and humour. It was fabulous.
Luckily for them.
Last night, by the miracle that is National Theatre Broadcasting, I watched the play I had missed from the comfort of my local cinema. It imagines some of the highlights of the weekly meetings, undertaken with her unimpeachable sense of duty since 1953, with the 12 Prime Ministers who have served under Queen Elizabeth II.
Helen's costumes are just sumptuous, and she undergoes several blink-and-you-miss-it changes of costumes on stage. She mutates from doughty middle-age, flirting with Harold Wilson; to a reed-slim not-such-an-ingenue defying Winston Churchill; to a hoary-locked dowager falling asleep as Cameron bangs on about the Euro. It was gorgeous British theatre; historic, correct, slightly naughty and bloody funny.
When I got home, the bots and Edward were lolling about watching cricket and vampire stuff. I told them what an amazing actress Mirren is; about the imperceptible body language with which she shrank from Thatcher and flirted with Eden; and the amazing costume changes on stage.
Freddie sat up straight. "Did you see her pants?" "Er, no, she was playing the Queen, for goodness sake."
He turned the cricket back up.