Play had ‘jewels in crown along way'
By Ron Ellis
Handbagged by Moira Buffini
Southport Dramatic Club
Little Theatre, Southport
THE idea behind this play was inspired. Jacquie as the Queen and Trudi Hirsch as Mrs T. with Diane Mackley and Helen Pritchard as their younger versions, perfectly fitted their roles as they exchanged views on important events which took place during the years of Mrs. Thatcher’s government, showing how the monarch and her ministers disagreed on so many major issues.
The action took place with four chairs placed on a bare stage with a screen backdrop depicting the series of topics which were the main features of the Thatcher Years, such as Rhodesia, The I.R.A. Bombing, The Brighton Bombing, The Libya Crisis, etc.
At times, there was a danger that it might turn into a history lesson, better suited to radio, as there was little movement onstage and, of course, as all the facts are known, no sense of us being surprised by an unexpected ending.
However, this was averted by the procession of characters, brilliantly played by Brendan Gillow and Adrian Miles-Roberts, who started out as footmen but later metamorphosed into Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Rupert Murdoch, Prince Philip, Robert Mugabe, Michael Heseltine, Denis Thatcher and 11 other influential figure of the era.
The funniest moments were actually when they came out of character (‘I thought you were supposed to be Neil Kinnock’), especially when the Queen announced she was going to speak with her subjects and she descended from the stage and shook hands with startled patrons in the front row.
There was a strong left-wing bias to the script reflecting the anti-Thatcher movement during the later years of her tenure, bringing the audience’s attention to the poll tax disaster, the coal miner’s strike and the Brixton riots while Thatcher herself was basking in the glory of a Falklands victory.
It is a play that needs a keen attention to appreciate the subtleties of the dialogue, using humour to show how the Queen and her first minister strive to maintain a cordial relationship despite their different beliefs. But worth it in the end.
Star Rating 7 out of 10. Static in parts but jewels in the crown along the way.