Pros: This piece is wildly fun, innovative and intelligently funny – an absolutely outrageous idea gone right.
Cons: Those unfamiliar with the details of Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister or with the history of modern British politics might not get quite how funny this is.
I have to admit, both synopsis and title made me underestimate this wonderfully, high-spirited show with sharp political humour, committed performances and great tunes, all of which have you laughing, smiling and dancing in your seat.
Theatre503’s small black-box theatre is the perfect setting for Maggie’s cabaret act set, with a gloriously pink shimmer curtain of a backdrop and pointed neon ‘Maggie’ signage (that’s with a phallic ‘i’ in case anyone is wondering) glowing in the background. The scene is set as soon as you step foot in the theatre with Shania Twain’s Man! I feel like a woman! scoring your entrance and, as the lights go down and Matt Tedford bursts onto stage as Mrs. Thatcher herself, you know that what’s to follow will be something you’ll never quite forget.
Over the next hour, Maggie and her assistants Hessell (Robert Cawsey) and Tine (Ed Yelland), assisted by lighting operator and daughter Carol, re-enact the ‘episode’ of Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister during the proposed amendment to Section 28. The twist to the tale of course is the fictional alternative ending to the real-life controversy that puts Maggie right where she is before you: on the cabaret circuit.
It seems far-fetched and, to be honest, it is. However, amongst the sequins, camp dancing and singing and left-wing shaped caricatures of infamous political figures, is some very clever and thoughtful writing instilling empathy in a character where some might have thought there could be none. While presenting itself as a flamboyant piece of entertainment, Maggie Queen of Soho simultaneously makes quite a poignant statement of how different things could have been if only politicians could be a little more human and a little less political.
Matt Tedford as Mrs Thatcher infuses Maggie with a delightful arrogance, biting tongue and penchant for performing that goes beyond the political, while Cawsey and Yelland as Hessll and Tine show remarkable versatility in their multiple roles.
If only all political theatre could include a rendition of It’s Raining Men, a couple of boas and a drag former prime minister armed with an artillery of smart, political witticisms, perhaps we’d all be a little more informed. This is a re-write of history that makes us question why life didn’t turn out like that in the first place!
For a piece of mind-expanding entertainment over the holidays, this is the one too book.
Authors: Jonathan Brittain and Matthew Tedford
Director: Jonathan Brittain
Box Office: 020 7978 7040
Booking Link: http://theatre503.com/whats-on/margaret-thatcher-queen-of-soho/
Booking Until: 4th January 2014