Handbagged a Comedy by Moira Buffini.

Two generations of Her Majesty the Queen and the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher each accompanied by a black handbag adorn the stage in this latest version of the sharp and quick-witted adaptation of Handbagged by Moira Buffini.

Were there a clash of personalities or not? Did any of the conversations or ones similar ever take place between these two exceptional ladies? Nobody but those two incredible ladies will ever truly know. Although it has been documented by those who were close to them that ones similar to these had taken place.

However, the timeline of events that run alongside their meetings during the play is historically accurate. There is a lot of information packed into the two house performance which can be slightly overwhelming at times.

Many events mentioned have long slipped into the pages of History and many of these landmark events have changed the path society walks. From the destruction and death caused in Brighton by the IRA bomb at the hotel many conservative government members were staying in during the October 1984 conference, the bitter battle of the miners strikes between 1984-85, poll tax march that descended into a riot, Two Royal Weddings, death of late Northern Ireland MP Aerie Neave in March 1979 and many many more.

The Queens costumes of plain bright colours are set in contrast against the iconic blue skirt suit which Margaret Thatcher was predominantly photographed wearing. Along with the traditional sets of pearls.

The stage is dressed by stepped staging which has been aptly outlined in the Conservative party blue which was often the colour worn by Margaret Thatcher’s trademark suits. With red leather regal looking chairs befitting of the Queen. Simple touches that add another depth to the visual side of this theatre production.

We are also in the presence of many prominent men associated with the Iron Lady during that period from her devoted husband Dennis Thatcher, Ronald Regan, Michael Haseltine, Jerry Adams, Prince Philip to name but a few all played by the tolerant and very talented Andy Secombe.

Jahvel Hall added a lot of comedy moments to the play. His well-delivered one-liners broke up tension building between The Queen and Thatcher on a few occasions. His timings were excellent and gathered many laughs from an engaged audience.

Director Jo Newman brilliantly matched the older and younger characters of both the iconic figures for their acting prowess as their obvious height differences do not correlate. However, the suspension of disbelief in the theatre is the best asset an audience member can bring with them.

With a lot of “…that never happened” counteracted by “…yes it did” from the Queen we will never really know but that doesn’t detract from both ….great performances in this play. The beginning of act two added a touch of class as both Queens walk in through the side aisles and down the stairs approaching the audience as we see the Queen do many times at Royal engagements with pleasant chit chat as she walks. Brilliant touch to the atmosphere of the auditorium.

The perfect play to introduce younger audiences to a very passionate and volatile period of recent history. Where two very powerful and strong ladies led the helm of the United Kingdom.

Four stars.

Cast

T-Sarah Crowden

Actor One-Jahvel Hall

Liz-Caroline Harker

Mags-Eve Matheson

Q-Susan Penhaligon

Actor Two-Andy Secombe

Creative team

Directed by Jo Newman

On between April 4th-20th

Salisbury Playhouse part of Wiltshire Creative

Malthouse Lane

Salisbury

SP2 7RA.

Tel:01722 320 333

http://www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk

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