Handbagged by Moira Buffini

It’s a good time to look back at the Thatcher era.  While Margaret Thatcher’s election as the first woman Prime Minister of the UK seemed a huge step forward for women, very few women sympathised with her.  Carrie Cracknell, the theatre director laments the “casual misogyny” that many women are exposed to today and you have to wonder whether this is a lingering legacy of the Thatcher era.  Moira Buffini’s play Handbagged looks with humour and irony at the story of how Margaret Thatcher de-sensitised herself to almost everything but the creation of wealth through power and the gaining of power through wealth.  People who disagreed with her and her policies were deemed “wet”.  We’ll never know what really went on at her weekly meetings with the Queen, but Handbagged gives a wonderfully entertaining and gritty look at what might have happened and what the two really thought of each other.  According to Peter Morgan’s play:  The Audience, Margaret Thatcher comes low on the list of the Queen’s favourite Prime Ministers.  Handbagged goes further than this – exploring in depth the reasons why – the main one being the catastophe she inflicted on many of the Queen’s subjects – working men and women.   It’s a brilliantly staged play, directed by Indhu Rubasingham in the Elizabethan tradition of the actors letting the audience know from time to time that they are aware it’s theatre and if an actor happens to play several parts and one of them is not their gender – then suck it up.  There are a couple of hilarious moments when the 2 male actors (Jeff Rawle and Neet Mohan) vie with each other to portray Neil Kinnock.  The rest of the cast:  Stella Gonet, Lucy Robinson, Marion Bailey, Fenella Woolgar are also good with exceptional acting from Marion Bailey and Fenella Woolgar.  The Olivier Awards were well deserved.  Fantastic news for the Tricycle.


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