Theatre review: Margaret Thatcher, Queen Of Soho
Jon Brittain and Matt Tedford’s alternative history of the Iron Lady was a big hit at the Edinburgh Fringe and it’s easy to see why as the show makes a flying visit to the West End.
Tedford puts in a bravura shift as Maggie, donning his twin set and pearls and doing an impression to rival Spitting Image legend Steve Nallon. A smart script and two stage hands ("the wets") ensure the show is less a one-man drag act and more a comic and musical extravaganza.
For what it's worth, the plot meanders up to the former prime minister walking into Soho on the eve of the vote for Section 28 and accidentally becoming a cabaret sensation. But while she is the star of the show, the lampooning is not limited to the Iron Lady.
The audience is also treated to a ludicrously thuggish Peter Tatchell (as imagined by Maggie, we’re told). The big baddie of the night is Jill Knight, the former Tory MP behind Clause 28, which banned local councils from promoting homosexuality.
While the main target of the show's satirical bite is Tory attitudes to gay rights in the 1980s, the latest version has the odd topical line thrown in for good measure. Perhaps inevitably, Lib Dems are the butt of at least one gag. David Cameron’s recent alleged encounter with a dead pig also features briefly.
The high-energy, high-camp show is a joy to experience from the start, when Maggie bursts on to the stage with an exuberant chorus of YMCA, to the finish, when the Iron Lady bows out singing ‘It’s Raining Men’ to a lively Soho crowd. It is a ridiculous and riotous romp through some of Maggie's least greatest hits which never takes itself too seriously. What’s not to like?
Margaret Thatcher: Queen Of Soho was at London’s Leicester Square Theatre from Thursday 3rd to Saturday 5th December.