Following Margaret Thatcher’s death and the resultant national debate, Theatre503 is currently hosting a variety of writers with a series of short plays (semi-educational for those unaware of the history and politics) looking back at Thatcher – the woman, the politics and her legacy.
There is a wonderful symmetry to the short plays in ThatcherWrite. Tales that kick-start the show reappear, like Apples – the story of market sellers who believe in the “equal distribution of wealth for all”. Discord strikes when Tanya (Rachel De-Lahay) aspires to start her own import business. This determination to make something of herself backfires, and she is forced to come crawling back – working longer hours for less money. The actor’s ability to interact with the crowd and their convincing Eastender’s-style gait is admirable.
The plays bring the laughs with satirical takes on the inheritance Thatcher has left us. Suit and Tie makes a mockery of rich city boys, “boshing” Jägerbombs and cocaine in remembrance of “Maggie”. Through intimidation, peer pressure and the desire to be constantly “winning”, we follow two unlikeable self-made men as they traverse the capital reacting in disgust to homosexuals, immigrants (“my suit costs more than your salary, you ape”) and women. Ben Worth and Andrew Sykes confidently act out a script that is fast-paced and extremely funny, yet the pathos is palpable when one character is left crying and bleeding, repeating the mantra “I’ll show him. Be a winner, make money”.
There are three odes performed by young people, entitled I Am Sad You Are Dead Mrs T. The first is performed with childlike sincerity, confused and confounded by her legacy; the second, a young posho filled with political dreams proclaims to Thatcher “you would vote for me!” These two dedications playfully lambast Thatcher’s policies; the last is performed beautifully by Bella Heesom and touchingly handles the subject of dignity in death.
Thatcher herself appears twice, initially wracked with dementia, in exile from political life. Sea noises show her distance from society before her death – stranded on a desert island. Georgina Strawson is excellent, displaying glassy-eyed confusion, in one moment close to tears, at others the strong and determined iron lady.
The last skit of ThatcherWrite is crudely jovial: Thatcher embraces homosexual culture, getting lost in Soho and singing karaoke in G-A-Y. Be prepared for a hilarious cross-dressing Thatcher (Matthew Tedford) to burst on stage dancing and shrieking “We are all Thatcher’s children” as a disco ball whirls to It’s Raining Men. Trying to keep a straight face is near-impossible!
Our rating: ****