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Thatcher - The Musical!

An all singing, all dancing cast race through the life and times of Baroness Thatcher and her Government, exploding and exploring the political and the personal…

Published on October 4th 2006.

Thatcher - The Musical!
Foursight Theatre in a co-production with Warwick Arts Centre

The Labour Party Conference in Manchester has been and gone, and David Cameron is currently wowing them in Bournemouth. To remind us that this is conference season, nine Margaret Hilda Thatchers are paying a visit to the Lowry to let us locals know that the Iron Lady is back in business and louder than ever.

It is not too long until ‘Merry Wives - The Musical’ graces the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and any moment now we can expect ‘Tony Blair - The Musical’ as written by Ming Campbell and George Galloway with music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber to invade the West End. What a wonderful prospect as all three present their legatees with the opportunity to stake claims for immortality. At least in the case of ‘Merry Wives’ it has taken over four hundred years to see Falstaff’s attempt.

First to attract our attention is an all singing, all dancing cast of nine all female actors and one male musician racing through the life and times of Baroness Thatcher and her Government, exploding and exploring the political and the personal and even revealing the contents of her notorious handbag.

According to director Naomi Cooke, it presents Maggie herself looking back over her meteoric rise from a grocer’s daughter to being the most powerful person of her day.

Well Shakespeare always knew that ‘the web of life’ was of ‘a mingled yarn, good and ill together’. He was a wise man .

An ordinary narrative with music that might be applauded mightily if written by the fifth formers of Nether Wallop 6th Form College, but certainly not the stuff of which great musicals are made. An enjoyable romp covering the Roberts/Thatcher years from 1946 – 1990, it sprints through the major landmarks of her political life.

In such a shortened view one sees her in a new light. The last English Prime Minister with 19th century credentials. There can be no doubt that sending gun boats to Agadir would have seen her standing shoulder to shoulder with Lord Palmerston. She yearned for the glories of the world that was.

She was lucky in her timing. Technology had not yet discovered the internet, and twenty four hour media scrutiny was still in its infancy. She benefited from this lack of minute examination. This musical hints at many things but fails to indicate either direction or any clear opinions. It ends up seeing, hearing and speaking no evil. A shame, particularly when the subject evoked antipathy and enthusiasm in almost equal measure.

The opening the handbag scene and the finale were excellent. I loved the penguins and the sheep, and the concept of all those Margaret Thatchers was a most creative idea. It kept my attention… just.

The Performers were excellent. One by one they mimicked, impersonated and competed for the title ‘Best Thatcher in Show’. My award goes to Sarah Thom as Narrator Maggie.

All in all a disappointment. A title such as this must be judged on its music – and this was a major shortcoming. So ‘good and ill together’, a pleasant diversion but nothing more.

Richard Burbage

The Lowry Theatre,
Salford Quays,
Greater Manchester

Box Office: 0870 787 5793

From Tuesday 3rd October to Saturday 7th October 2006

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