Helen Mirren Swears at, Silences Drummers Who Disturbed London Play

Georg Szalai
Helen Mirren Swears at, Silences Drummers Who Disturbed London Play

LONDON - Helen Mirren this weekend yelled at and told off a troupe of drummers that made noise outside the theater where she played Queen Elizabeth II in award-winning stage production The Audience, the Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.

It said the 67-year-old left London's Gielgud Theatre during intermission to swear at and silence the drummers, who were promoting a festival for gay and transgender people set to take place later this month. Dressed in her full Queen costume, including tiara, Mirren used harsh language and expletives to cause the drummers to stop, according to the Telegraph.

“I’m afraid there were a few 'thespian’ words used," it quoted Mirren as saying. "They got a very stern royal ticking off, but I have to say they were very sweet and they stopped immediately."

She added: “I was so upset from struggling through [a] scene...that I literally walked straight off stage, straight up the stairs and straight out the stage door and banged my way through the crowd who were watching and said "stop, you’ve got to stop right now" - only I might have used stronger language than that." Mirren also said: “I felt rotten, but on the other hand they were destroying our performance so something had to be done."

Her performance in The Audience recently won the actress an Olivier Award, the British version of the Tony Award.

The incident happened Saturday night, and Mirren was joined by co-star Rufus Wright, who portrays British Prime Minister David Cameron in the play, in addressing the drummers. Towards the end of the first act of the play, the drums outside became hard to ignore, according to the Telegraph.

Mark McKenzie, who organized the drummers' parade, told the paper: "Not much shocks you on the gay scene. But seeing Helen Mirren dressed as the Queen cussing and swearing and making you stop your parade – that’s a new one."

A statement from the festival that the drummers promoted described Mirren's comments like this: "Clearly angered, she shrieked 'Quiet! I'm trying to do a play in here! People have paid a lot of money for tickets'."

Mirren also told the paper that she would like to track down the drummers, whom she called “fellow performers”, and invite them to see the play.

Wright tweeted: “You should have seen Helen. Honestly. It was breathtaking.”

The play later was hit by another brief problem when a power failure caused the lights to go out. “We seem to be having a bit of a bad night,” Mirren told the audience, according to the paper.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai