HANDBAGGED, 3Star***, To 11 March, London

by Moira Buffini
3Stars ***

Brockley Jack Studio, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH to 11 March 2017.
Tues – Sat 7.45pm.
Runs 2 hr 15 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell 4 March.

Tea and no sympathy
Now that the daughter of the Vicarage is having tea at Buckingham Palace on a regular basis a whole new set of possibilities has opened up as to how the two sipping whatever it is – English Breakfast or Earl Grey – are getting on. If the Queen meeting all her premiers was material for theatrical speculation so too were her encounters over eleven years with Margaret Thatcher. This topic exploited with relish by Moira Buffini in her play Handbagged.

We get two Thatchers and two Queens, the ones actually meeting and their older selves looking back. Sue Higginson and Sarah Tortell are the Maggies, both catching the mannerisms nicely and the latter managing to catch some of the basso profundo tones of the Iron Lady rather well. As the two Queens Pauline Armour and Fiona McGahren fight the good fight nicely with this dreadful woman who does not share their dedication to the Commonwealth and thinks she knows best on everything.

Howie Ripley and Mark Steere play the men in their lives, some impersonations being spot on, others less so. But all the cast play with zest, interact with the audience, and the result is a look at how it might have been which just possibly could be like it was. But it does have a slightly passé feel to it.

The Thatcher years are long gone, most of those involved have departed this life, and the Vicarage Brexit ones are here to stay. It would be more fun to ponder how the lady in the leather pants and the silly shoes is going down with the woman who is, in the popular parlance, our rock.

However, if the play had to be revived this is a neatly staged, cleverly set, well performed and directed affair at this enterprising pub theatre, which is a model of its kind.

T: Sue Higginson.
Q. Pauline Armour.
Mags: Sarah Tortell.
Liz: Fiona McGahren.
Actor 1: Howie Ripley.
Actor 2: Mark Steere.

Director: Dan Armour.
Stage Design: Tony Reeves.
Lighting Design: Rory Fairbairn.

2017-03-06 19:19:52

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