Handbagged

Handbagged

Have you ever wondered what went on behind closed Palace doors at Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s weekly meetings with the Queen?  This mischievous comedy, which cleverly mixes politics with a hilarious clash of personalities, offers an imagined version of events.  The fun is ramped-up by older versions of Mrs Thatcher and the Queen joining in with the action and often disagreeing with their former selves!  The other characters, including Denis Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Arthur Scargill,  are played by two “jobbing actors” who squabble over the best roles. The original 2013 production won an Olivier Award before transferring to the West End for a successful run.

The first night audience for this show was treated to an evening of the highest quality of both acting and production. Matthew Ellison’s casting and direction of this small but perfectly formed group of actors ensured they were skilfully portraying the Queen, Mrs T and a wide variety of cabinet ministers and heads of state.

The cast of just six actors produced a wonderfully paced timeline of the Thatcher Years. Christine English was very believable in her portrayal of Mrs T in her later years and was sublimely countered by Beverley Siddle’s performance as the Queen, as they interjected and reminisced. Georgette Ellison as Mags and Clare Durham as Liz enabled the more historical perspective of events to be seen through the eyes of both women in their younger years. All four women had clearly spent time perfecting the accents of their characters.

The ‘jobbing’ actors are played by Ryan Harris and Neil Gwynne. Ryan showed an exceptional talent for impersonation, managing to retain a wide range of regional and foreign accents throughout, whilst Neil was very believable in his many roles and had the audience laughing loudly at his use of wigs.  All the actors mastered the nuances of gesture and facial expression of all their characters to enhance the comedic aspect of this production and their description of a picnic at Balmoral is simple excellent.

The set is simple but combined with the production, lighting and musical highlights proved very effective.

This is a production worthy of a full house for every remaining performance. It runs nightly until Saturday 19 May 2018.