Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Liz and Mags

Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton

Members of the Theatre Matinee Group and I went to see Tricycle Theatre's Handbagged at the Vaudeville Theatre at the end of May.  It was originally an one Act play back in 2010 as part of Tricycle Theatre's Women, Power and Politics.  This production was premiered last October at the North London Theatre.  The Olivier Award Winning Production has brought critical acclaim and positive reviews.

Handbagged, written by Moira Buffin, is a comedy exploring the relationship of Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher, who were born six months apart, when the former prime minister was elected in 1979 until her last days in 1990.  The older Elizabeth (played by Marion Bailey) and the older Thatcher (played by Stella Gonet) looks back at the time of Maggine Thacter's reign.  Both women, equally measured their powers and influences over afternoon tea, 4,00pm to be precise!

The younger Queen, Liz (played by Lucy Robinson) and younger Thatcher, Mags (played by Fenella Woolgar) relate their civic and political responsibilities.  There were comical moments where both leading ladies didn't see eye to eye with their disagreements. The first Act closed with the Queen declaring tea for the interval and at the start of Act Two the audience were standing for her arrival.

The comedy focussed on the battles between power and politics between two women, equipped with their handbags, behind closed doors of Buckingham Palace.  Actors, Neet Mohan and Jeff Rawle played various key political roles which influenced and shaped Maggie Thatcher's reign including Dennis Thatcher, Neil Kinnock, Ronald Reagan, Michael Heslitine and Rupert Murdoch.  The actors also reminded both women events they would rather not share with the audience such as the riots, the miners strike, unemployment and so forth and their closed door discussions about the 'enemy within'.

The hilarious comedy was directed by Indhu Rubasingham.  The formal setting of afternoon tea on stage was designed by Richard Kent with regal ambient lighting and sound which is courtesy of Oliver Fenwick and Carolyn Dowling.  A MUST see comedy with seriousness combined with guaranteed laughter.  Handbagged is on at the Vaudeville Theatre until August 2014.  More information is available via the website.

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