Director: Jon Brittain
Writers: Jon Brittain and Matt Tedford
Reviewer: Bryan Hogan
Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho is presented at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. Originally a ten minute short presented at Thatcher Write, a festival of short plays inspired by Margaret Thatcher, it also had a Christmas run at Theatre503 and comes via Brighton Fringe.
The lady is most definitely for turning! Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho reimagines Thatcher’s rôle in the infamous (homophobc) Section 28. After getting lost in Soho, mistaken for a ‘drag queen’ and ‘pervert’, Thatcher gets a glimpse into the the life of homosexuals, the only people to accept her on that forsaken night. As she realises people are just people, she races to the house of commons. However, will section 28 and Villanness Knight be defeated? Will harmony be restored and did Thatcher really become a cabaret legend after resigning from politics?
This is the production’s opening night at the festival and there were a few little hitches including Thatcher’s skirt, however these didn’t hinder the production but allowed Tedford’s sharp wit to be unleashed, making you question whether this was part of the aesthetic or not. Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho provided a mischevious romp through history with the audience reacting fantastically throughout. The juxtaposition of comedy and politics make this an unforgettable night.
While the script is packed with hillarious one-liners it is the off the cuff retorts of Tedford that really bring this production to life and he rules over the production with just as much masterfulness as the Iron Lady herself. The flick of the hair, the clutching of the handbag and every hitch of the skirt, Tedford’s performance is what Camp and drag should be seeking to achieve. Like a demented Diana Ross, Thatcher was backed up by her ‘Supremes’! The supporting actors, Ed Yelland and Matt Milne, played a variety of rôles. A special mention to the moustachioed boys, and the characters of Peter Thatchell and Jill Knight.
This reviewer has often stated the need for bearded drag queens and politcally charged drag, like the way drag was utilised in the eighties, so seeing Conchitta Wurst and Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho leaves me very hopeful for the future of drag. At a time when drag culture is mostly being reduced to lipsynching and ‘passing’ it is refreshing to see drag that’s subversive and not afraid to claw the establishment.
This is not a vacous production, but rather a satirical look at an important part of gay history and how one person could choose to make an important change, I see a Putinesque sequel! A diverse audience abounds, why not pop along for Camp hijinks, a photo with ‘Maggie’ herself and perhaps even a drink? The thumping eighties soundtrack definitely puts you in the mood.
Photo courtesy of IDGTF. Runs until 17th May.