Handbagged, Chelmsford Theatre Workshop – The Old Court Theatre, Chelmsford.
I do remember Mrs Thatcher although I was too young to really grasp the political climate at the time but this playful and interesting speculation on what might have gone on behind closed doors during the 11 years that she was Prime Minister and her weekly meetings with Her Majesty was very enjoyable and at times quite moving too.
There are usually two Queens and two Thatcher’s on stage at any one time: these are older and young versions who occasionally disagree. It was reported that both Margaret and the Queen had a difficult relationship and the brilliant writing and portrayal of this piece surmises that perfectly.
Even the interval is a bone of contention: The Queen wants a break, but the PM is determined to press on.
Debbie Miles as the older Mrs T gave a solid performance showing great control in her delivery of the part and she was partnered by Andrea Dalton as the younger and more aggressive Margaret. In fact, Andrea had got the intonation and mannerisms of the part down so well it was hard sometimes to remember that you weren’t watching the actual Iron Lady herself.
As Her Majesty, Jane Smith gave a very convincing performance as the older Queen, her vocal imitation spot on and very believable as the slightly irritable monarch at times while Laura Hill as her younger self, had all the Royal composure you would expect and when both greet the commoners you did feel like you were in the presence of gloved royalty.
Casting Mark Preston, who seemed to morph into every character he undertook and Kevin Stemp, who reminded me of Tony Robinson, in all the smaller roles was inspired. Both played multiple parts as various people involved in the headlines of the day including Dennis Thatcher, both Ronald and Nancy Reagan (Mark Preston looking very fetching in a red dress and leopard skin heels), Gerry Adams, Arthur Scargill, Neil Kinnock, Michael Shea and Geoffrey Howe, as well as breaking down the fourth wall by chatting to the audience.
To complete the circle, the actors periodically get to comment on the way the show is being handled and the parts they are required to play.
Many of the major events of the period are touched on, including Zimbabwe independence, the Falklands War, the miners’ strike and the Brighton Grand Hotel bombing, but this is anything but a dry history lesson. We will never know what actually happened every Tuesday for 11 years in those meetings but tonight’s production gave us a glorious peak into what might have been.
Do try and see this if you can as it offers a great evening’s entertainment which won’t disappoint.
The LadyKillersSeptember 7, 2017 – September 30, 2017The New Wolsey TheatreThe New Wolsey Theatre, The Salisbury Playhouse and The Queens Theatre Hornchurch bring this classic Ealing comedy on tour to the region. Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
All Shook Up, Chelmsford Operatic SocietySeptember 26, 2017 – September 30, 2017Civic Theatre, ChelmsfordTickets from 01245 606505 www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres
Come Back to the Five And Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean - Blackmore PlayersSeptember 28, 2017 – September 30, 2017Blackmore Village HallEvening Performances on Thursday & Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 7:30pm. Tickets from www.blackmoreplayers.co.uk T:01277 200305
Reason's to be CheerfulOctober 3, 2017 – October 7, 2017The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswichcelebrating the infectious music of Ian Drury and the Blockheads; a punk rock musical and gritty coming of age tale. Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
Little Shop of Horrors - Co2October 4, 2017 – October 14, 2017Mercury Theatre, Colchester
Oxy & The MoronsOctober 12, 2017 – October 21, 2017The New Wolsey Theatre, IpswichA brank new punk musical with a machine gun playlist of original songs, co-written with Mike Peters (The Alarm), Paul Sirett (Mods & Rox) and Steve Allan Jones. Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
9 to 5 - Witham Operatic SocietyOctober 23, 2017 – October 28, 2017Witham Public Hall, Collingwood Rd, Withamtickets from www.waos.org/box-office
Rules for LivingOctober 31, 2017 – November 4, 2017The New Wolsey Theatre, IpswichEveryone creates their own rules for living but what happens when an extended family gathers for a traditional Christmas dinner and each of them rigidly follows those rules? Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
House of Dracula - Chelmsford Theatre WorkshopOctober 31, 2017 – November 4, 2017Nightly at 7:45pm tickets from 01245 606505
Wait Until DarkNovember 6, 2017 – November 11, 2017The New Wolsey Theatre, IpswichOriginal Theatre presents the Classic, edge of your seat thriller - Wait until Dark. Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
Gypsy - LTCNovember 8, 2017 – November 11, 2017Palace Theatren430 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 9LA, England
Soho Cinders - SpringersNovember 14, 2017 – November 18, 2017Cramphorn TheatrenFairfield Road, Chelmsford, CM1, England
Singing in the Rain - SODSNovember 22, 2017 – November 25, 2017Palace Theatren430 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 9LA, England
Red Riding Hood - The Rock and Roll PantoNovember 23, 2017 – January 27, 2018The New Wolsey Theatre, IpswichAnother Brand new Rock and Roll Panto! Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
Snow White and the Seven DwarfsNovember 25, 2017 – January 14, 2018Mercury Theatre, Colchestertickets: www.mercurytheatre.co.uk
Beauty and the Beast - Blackmore PlayersJanuary 18, 2018 – January 20, 2018Blackmore Village Hall