The Huffington Post said, “Matthew Tedford gives a five star performance as the late Prime Minister,” in its review of the award winning actor, comedian and writer’s Margaret Thatcher, Queen of Soho which played the Leicester Square Theatre in London earlier this year.
Co-written with Jon Brittain, the camp comic cabaret is a re-imagining of the events leading up to the passing of the controversial Section 28 in 1988 that banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools. Matt’s ‘Maggie’ takes a wrong turn in Soho and ends up as an unlikely drag diva. Yes… the Iron Lady becomes a gay rights championing cabaret superstar!
Margaret Thatcher still remains the United Kingdom’s longest running and only female Prime Minister (1979-1990). Before running the country, she was a research chemist and actually invented the chemical that makes soft serve ice cream…
The show played to full houses around the UK and Ireland, culminating in a total sell out season at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year. Not only did Matt sign, but his alter ego did as well, bonus!
Undoubtably one of the theatrical highlights of the past year was Handbagged, Moira Buffin’s latest play tells the tales of the Queen’s weekly meetings with Margaret Thatcher. Premiering at the Tricycle Theatre in October 2013, the sold out run won an Olivier Award and transferred to the West End. It was commissioned by the Tricycles new artistic director Indu Rubasingham.
The play arrived at the Vaudeville Theatre with the cast more or less in tact; only Clare Holman was substituted as the younger monarch by Lucy Robinson. As the slogan stated “Liz. Maggie. Tea at four. Handbags at dawn.”
Two enduring icons of the 20th Century, born six months apart – what did the world’s most powerful women talk about? It’s a shrews piece that cleverly explores what might have gone on behind closed doors.
The play’s runaway success, and unanimous critical acclaim, depended in large on the brilliant performances of its four actresses who play older and younger versions of the two leaders. Marion Bailey is the older monarch sitting in judgement of her younger self, and the older Maggie played by Stella Gonet looks back on the woman that she was in office “embodied with all her mannerisms down to a T” by Fenella Woolgar. As The Telegraph’s Tim Walker stated in his five star review, “only a director of Indhu Rubasingham’s sensitivity could cope with the gear changes that shift the action form slapstick to moments of unbearable pathos.”
All four kindly singed my sketch in the final week, as the play completed its Vaudeville run on Saturday 2 August.
Britain’s ‘Iron Lady’ died yesterday.The former and first (and only) female British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher’s passing has bought mixed reactions in the UK. Tony and Olivier nominated actress, Haydn Gwynne currently portrays her in Peter Morgan’s new play, THE AUDIENCE at the Gielgud Theatre. “I don’t know many people who would be neutral about Margaret Thatcher,” she wrote in the programme. “Everything about her was antithetical to what I believe in,but I would never play her through a filter of my own view of her…it’s not what is required. The weird thing is that, as soon as you are asked to play someone like this-and of course I watched bits of footage and read her biography and memoirs-you stop judging.”
I was going to do a sketch of Haydn anyway, along with other cast members,so it seemed appropriate to whip one up and have it signed by the Thatcher ‘stage surrogate’ on the day of Maggie’s passing. It was a surreal atmosphere around the stage door as cast and crew filtered in,with the occasional comment about ‘the event’ of the day. I missed Haydn going in, but did get to meet Peter Morgan,who signed my programme which was a bonus.
Everyone left relatively quickly after the performance and the group gathered at the exit soon dispersed once Dame Helen drove off, leaving only me, Phil, the stage door manager and one or two patrons from the gay bar opposite who had popped out for a ciggy….oh and the guy who feeds the pigeons. Haydn finally appeared around 10.45 and looked surprised..that someone was still waiting,let alone with a sketch. “I guess it must have been an interesting night?” I said. “Very interesting”, she replied. She liked the drawing-thought it was a nice touch and the poignancy of the moment felt as she signed it with a spirit-based sharpie.