67 years since it first began, Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap is still going strong and makes a return to Darlington Hippodrome as it continues its tour of the UK.
In order not to give anything away, there is little I can tell you about the show. It begins with a murder in London and ends in Monkswell Manor Guest House.
The curtain opens on a breath-taking set. Wood panelled walls and doors, a massive fireplace, beautifully detailed arches, snow falling outside a large ornate window. This is Monkswell Manor Guest House, newly set up by Mollie and Giles Ralston (Harriet Hare and Nick Biadon) and it is not long before their first set of guests arrive through the blizzard that surrounds the house. Christopher Wren (wonderfully acted by Lewis Chandler) is an eccentric young man who may have hidden depths, Major Metcalfe (John Griffiths) is a retired army man who might have a secret and Mrs Boyle (Gwyneth Strong) is an old battleaxe who has all the best lines but who may also be more than she seems. The group is completed with Miss Casewell (Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen) and David Alcock as Mr Paravicini, a mysterious foreigner who dispenses regular cryptic comments. Once these characters are efficiently established in a short space of time, the cat is set among the pigeons as Sgt Trotter (Geoff Arnold) arrives with enquiries about a murder that happened earlier that day in London and the fact that at least one of the people in the house is implicated. It would not spoil anything to say that act one ends with the violent death of one of these characters and one of the greatest joys of the evening are the discussions that take place during the interval as to the identity of the murderer.
Originally titled Three Blind Mice, and written in 1952, The Mousetrap is as fresh today as when it was written. Full of Christie’s trademarks with red herrings aplenty and intelligent well rounded characters, you are drawn in from the beginning. And with your little grey cells all working overtime to wonder why someone said this, someone else said that and why that reaction? The fine cast of actors have made the classic characters their own on this tour and the dedication to their craft shows in excellent acting.
As the curtain goes down at the end we are asked not to give away the ending – one of the reasons why this iconic play has managed such longevity. And I’m sure the very packed auditorium at Darlington are more than happy to keep the secret of this first rate play
I would advise you go once to see a fantastic show but if I’m honest I would advise you go twice – the first time to let your mind work over time as you constantly try to work out whodunit and why, and the 2nd time to just to enjoy the pure excellence of the show.
In Darlington until 4 May and on tour around the UK
Cast also includes Cassidy Janson, Oliver Tompsett, Arun Blair-Mangat,Melanie La Barrie, Jordan Luke Gage and Tim Mahendran
Performances begin Saturday 2 November | Shaftesbury Theatre
Two-time Olivier Award winner David Bedella is to join the cast of & Juliet. The joyous new West End musical, that imagines Juliet’s famous ending as just her beginning, today makes its London launch and is thrilled to announced that Bedella, widely acclaimed for a stage career which includes Olivier Awards for his starring roles in Jerry Springer The Opera and In The Heights, will join a host of other leading West End stars.
Miriam-Teak Lee (Hamilton, On The Town) will star in the lead role of Juliet, and the show brings together a host of performers who have headlined some of the most celebrated shows of recent years: Cassidy Janson(Leading Ladies, Chess, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical); Oliver Tompsett (Kinky Boots, Wicked); Arun Blair-Mangat (Leave to Remain, Angels in America); Melanie La Barrie (Wicked, Matilda); Jordan Luke Gage (who starred in the lead role of Strat in Bat Out of Hell), and Tim Mahendran (Spring Awakening).
& Juliet soars with the music of Max Martin, the acclaimed song-writer of some of the biggest pop anthems of the last 30 years, and recorded by artists including Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Ariana Grande, all brilliantly arranged by Tony® and Grammy Award-winning orchestrator Bill Sherman.
The production will play a limited season at Manchester Opera House, from Tuesday 10 September to Saturday 12 October, before beginning performances in London at The Shaftesbury Theatre on Saturday 2 November (Press Night: Wednesday 20 November at 7:00pm).
Romeo & Juliet final scene. Juliet picks up the dagger and….gets a life.
A timely and timeless tale of one independent young woman, & Juliet is a riotous comic blast of fun and glorious pop music that proves when it comes to love, there’s always life after Romeo…
Brought to life by an award-winning creative team in an explosive fusion of styles, & Juliet will be directed byLuke Sheppard (In the Heights) with a book by David West Read (Schitt’s Creek), electrifying choreography from Jennifer Weber, stunning set design from Soutra Gilmour and costume design by Paloma Young.
The ensemble includes Jocasta Almgill, Josh Baker, Alishia-Marie Blake, Ivan De Freitas, Rhian Duncan, Danielle Fiamanya, Kieran Lai, Nathan Lorainey-Dineen, Jaye Marshall, Grace Mouat, Antoine Murray-Straughan, Kerri Norville, Christopher Parkinson, Dillon Scott-Lewis, Kirstie Skivington and Alex Tranter.
Max Martin and Tim Headington present & Juliet, which is produced by Max Martin, Tim Headington, Theresa Steele, Jenny Petersson and Martin Dodd.
James Baker, Tom Chester and Bill Elms for Northern Ricochet present
LINE-UP REVEALED FOR
JERRY SPRINGER CHOIR
‘Exceptionally talented choir’ will support professional cast
A group of 14 singers from across Manchester have successfully got through the auditions to become the Jerry Choir in a new production of JERRY SPRINGER – THE OPERA.
This is a rareand exciting opportunity for the performers to be part of JERRY SPRINGER – THE OPERA,which comes to Manchester in August 2019 – almost 15 years since the show was last performed in the UK.
The choir will play an instrumental role in the show by supporting the cast of professional actors. Casting for the main roles will be announced shortly.
JERRY SPRINGER – THE OPERA will run at Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats for four weeks from Thursday 8 August through to Saturday 31 August 2019.Tickets are on sale now.
The controversial musical is being brought to the stage by new production company Northern Ricochet, recentlyformed by James Baker (Parade, Yank), Tom Chester (Parade, Mamma Mia),andBill Elms (Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles, The Ruby Slippers and Twopence To Cross The Mersey).
Northern Ricochet are passionate about producing quality theatre in the North, for the North and using Northern creatives, actors and voices.
By holding an open call in the search for Jerry Choir members, their aim is to make theatre more accessible; giving local community and wider region an opportunity to be a part of professional productions. All the performers in the Jerry Choir live in the North West region.
Producers are delighted to reveal the Jerry Choir line-up will include Rebecca Crookson; Ellamae Cieslik; Natalie Ciufo; Hannah Edwards; Paul Hilton; Keziah Lockwood; Josh Hindle; Alana Dann; Joe Dillon; Tilly Smith; Greg James; Kirsty Allen; Chloe Hughes; and Sam Nilssen.
JERRY SPRINGER – THE OPERA caused a storm when it came to the UK stage in 2002, and in this new revival it promises the same raucous energy with a revamped and fresh production for 2019!
The first joint venture from Northern Ricochet will see James Baker as director; Tom Chester as musical director; and Bill Elms as co-producer of JERRY SPRINGER – THE OPERA.
Co-producer Bill Elms commented: “It was a real pleasure and privilege to audition for the Jerry Choir. There is so much undiscovered Northern talent and it’s our vision to nurture and support those performers who need that step on the ladder.
“We have an exceptionally talented choir who will support the professional cast – and we’re all really looking forward to the next phase in developing the choir in rehearsals when we know they are really going to shine.”
JERRY SPRINGER – THE OPERA was written by Richard Thomas, who also wrote the music and lyrics, with the book and additional lyrics by Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas. It is based on The Jerry Springer Show, which was first broadcast on television in 1991 and was on the air for 27 years. It tells the story of America’s favourite talk show host who suffers the worst day in his career when faced with some of the most challenging guests he’s ever met on set.
Full cast to be announced soon for JERRY SPRINGER – THE OPERA.
Facebook: /Jerry Springer Manchester
Twitter: @JSTOMANC #JERRYJERRY
JERRY SPRINGER – THE OPERA
Dates: Thursday 8 August – Saturday 31 August 2019
Times: Tue – Sateves 7.30pm| Sat mat 2pm | Sunday 1pm & 5pm |Thu 29 Aug 2pm
Hope Mill Theatre
113 Pollard Street,
HOW TO BOOK
Tickets: Preview tickets all £20.00 | General tickets £22.50 & £25.00 (concessions available) | Premium VIP On Stage seating £23.00, £25.50 & £28.00 (limited 8 seats per show)
AUDIBLE ANNOUNCE NEW LONDON PRODUCTION OF AL SMITH’S RADIO
By Al Smith
Directed by Josh Roche
19 June – 13 July 2019
Audible,the world’s leading producer and provider of spoken-word entertainment, today deepens its commitment to UK theatre announcing a new London production of Radio written by Al Smith. Josh Rochedirects Adam Gillen as Charlie Fairbanks in a one-man play about memory, love and spaceships. The production opens at Arcola Theatre on 24 June, with previews from 19 June and runs until 13 July. To coincide with the opening of the stage show, a studio recording of Radio will also release exclusively on Audible this summer, available for members to download worldwide.
Charlie Fairbanks was born in the dead centre of the United States at the dead centre of the twentieth century. Americans are going to the Moon and Charlie’s sure he’ll be the first one there. But as he shines his spotlight on the Moon, so too does it illuminate the darker side to his nation’s history.
Al Smith, said today, “I’m delighted that Audible is staging and releasing Radio in audio – I hope it will give more people an opportunity to hear it. It feels exciting to me that the play’s being restaged in the run up to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. I wrote it as a sort of love letter to my dad who, as a young physicist, worked for NASA to help select potential landing sites for Apollo 11. It seems heart-breaking that in the near-half-century since that extraordinary achievement humans haven’t been back. And so the play, I suppose, is a reflection on that, and tries to look at what gets left behind when a planet turns its collective attention to the heavens for a single moment.”
Kate Navin, Artistic Producer, Theatre at Audible added, “Audible is at the forefront of the audio renaissance and we are excited to open up a new world of stories to audiences both on stage and in audio. Continuing our commitment to creative talent Audible Theatre will bring theatrical performances to new audiences, redefining storytelling through audio with best-in-class works from established and emerging writers, directors and performers.”
Al Smith’s theatre credits include Harrogate (HighTide/Royal Court Theatre – Nominated for Most Promising Playwright at the 2017 Evening Standard Theatre Awards), Diary of a Madman (Gate Theatre), The Bird(Underbelly/Arcola Theatre) and The Astronaut Wives Club (Soho Theatre). His television credits include Father Brown and The Coroner.
Adam Gillen plays Charlie Fairbanks. His theatre credits include Killer Joe (Trafalgar Studios), Amadeus, The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder (National Theatre), Wendy and Peter (RSC), Lotty’s War (UK tour), Lee Harvey Oswald(Finborough Theatre), School for Scandal (Barbican), The Door Never Closes (Almeida Theatre), A Taste of Honey (Royal Exchange Theatre), The Good Soul of Szechuan (Young Vic), The Lions Mouth and War and Peace (Royal Court Theatre). Television credits as series regular include Liam in Benidorm. Other television credits include Fresh Meat, Prisoners Wives and This is Jinsy; and for film, Vita and Virginia and Funny Cow.
Josh Roche directs. His theatre credits include Plastic (Mercury Theatre), The Agony and the Style (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama), My Name is Rachel Corrie (Young Vic – JMK Award Winner 2017), Women Centre Stage (Sphinx Theatre), A Third, Magnificence (Finborough Theatre), World Shakespeare Conference and Keep The Aspidistra Flying (RSC). His credits as Assistant Director include The Alchemist (RSC), Doctor Faustus (RSC/Barbican), Farinelli and The King (Duke of York’s Theatre), Death of A Salesman (RSC/Noël Coward Theatre) and Doctor Scroggy’s War (Shakespeare’s Globe); and as Associate Director, Pressure (Park Theatre/UK tour).
Other theatrical works co-produced on stage and in audio by Audible in the UK include:
Avalanche: A Love Story, by Julia Leigh (Betty Trask Award-winner, Prix de l’Astrolabe-winner, Encore Award-winner, The Hunter, Sleeping Beauty). Avalanche: A Love Story follows a woman in her late 30s as she grapples with questions of maternity and womanhood whilst undergoing a series of difficult IVF treatments. Avalanche: A Love Story is produced by Barbican Theatre Productions and Fertility Fest, co-produced by Audible and the Sydney Theatre Company. Maxine Peake (BAFTA-nominee, The Village, Black Mirror, The Theory Of Everything, The Bisexual) stars in the stage production which runs at the Barbican Theatre from 27April –12 May 2019.
True Weststarring Kit Harington (Emmy-nominee, Game Of Thrones) and Johnny Flynn (Genius, Beast). Two brothers spar, smoulder and burn in Sam Shepard’s darkly comic 1980 drama. The Cain and Abel conflict is a showdown of sibling rivalry but also bears witness to a legacy of booze-fuelled family brawls. The audio edition of True West is produced by Audible. The stage production was performed at the Vaudeville Theatre and produced by Smith & Brant Theatricals and Empire Street Productions.
Some of the Audible Theatre titles that members can purchase include Girls & Boys performed by Carey Mulligan, Harry Clarke performed by Billy Crudup, Iphigenia In Splottperformed by Sophie Melville (Winner of UK Theatre Awards Best New Play, 2017, Winner of James Tait Black Award for Best New Play, 2017, Nominated for Drama Desk Outstanding Solo Performance, 2018), The Diary Of A Hounslow Girl, written and performed by Ambreen Razia, Sakina’s Restaurant, written and performed by Aasif Mandvi, On The Exhalestarring Polly Frame, Winner of the Fringe First Award 2018 and Feeding The Dragon, written and performed by Sharon Washington.
For further information about current and upcoming Audible Theatre productions please visit:www.audible.co.uk/ep/theatre. Audible members can buy theatrical titles to download and keep forever for 1 credit, non-members can also purchase titles for a one off payment (exact prices vary title-by-title).
CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS, CELIA IMRIE AND BILL PATERSON ANNOUNCED AS JUDGES FOR INAUGURAL
WEST END FLEA MARKET
Theatrical charity, Acting for Others today announce Christopher Biggins as head judge, alongside Celia Imrieand Bill Paterson for the inaugural West End Flea Market taking place on the morning of Saturday 18 May at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden. They will take to the market to judge the competitions for the Best Dressed Stall and the Showstopper centrepieces created by top venues and West End shows that will be auctioned off. Participants include Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, Only Fools and Horses, The Royal Opera House, The Phantom of the Opera, The Mousetrap and Les Miserables with more to be announced.
The competing participants will host a variety of uniquely designed stalls with showstopping goodies including theatrical memorabilia, posters, bric-a-brac and special items for auction. Alongside his judging duties Christopher Biggins will host Biggin’s Bargains – where two showbiz teams will go head to head hunting for goodies to auction off with the winning team being the one that makes the most profit at auction in aid of Acting for Others.
There will be live entertainment and a raffle on the day with prizes including an iPad, £150 of Theatre Tokens, £100 Marks & Spencer voucher and a mystery prize worth £80. In addition, The Theatre Café will host a refreshments stall, Su Pollard will be telling fortunes and Acting for Others will have a signing and selfie area where guests will have the opportunity to mingle with the stars including AnnetteBadland, Hayley Mills, Wendi Peters, Harriet Thorpe, Layton Williams and Tom Read Wilson with more to be announced.
The public are invited to come and cheer on their favourite show and the winner will be announced at 10.45am. The event is free and open from 10.45am to 1pm.
West End Flea Market is organised and in aid of Acting for Others, a fundraising organisation for 15 UK theatrical and welfare charities.
The Age of Aquarius has returned to the stage 50 years after Hair was first written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni with a passionate, entertaining performance. Written during the time of the Vietnam war, it tells the story of a group of hippies living in New York. In the tribe are Claude (Paul Wilkins) and his friend Berger (Jake Quickenden) along with Shelia (Daisy Wood-Davis), Jeanie (Alison Arnopp), Woof (Bradley Judge) and Hud (Marcus Collins). It follows them trying to wrestle the balance between their bohemian life of sex, drugs, racism and liberation with that of war and conservative society. Claude has been drafted and struggles with whether to resist, following his pacifist beliefs, or to conform and serve his country. When it was first performed, it caused outrage for its sexual content, blatant drug taking and nudity
The set is almost too perfect with multiple coloured streamers hung from wire fencing, supporting hippie tents at different levels housing the members of the band. The clever use of colour and texture throughout the performance helps to convey their hippie lifestyle and energy although the smoke machine did leave us in a thick fog during one number! The full cast nude scene was almost too subtle, staged at the very back of the stage with such soft lighting that you were almost unaware it was happening.
Every member of this close-knit cast gives energy to the show with each song sung with intensity but without outshining each other. Berger sets the atmosphere with a flirty energetic number leaving him almost naked within minutes of the show starting! Claude’s struggle is played out convincingly by Paul Wilkins and Daisy Wood-Davis’s sweet singing voice was perfect for the dreamy Sheila. Marcus Collins, Aiesha Pease (Dionne) and Alison Arnoop (Jeanie) vocal performances were particularly uplifting although it seems cruel not to list every member of the cast as all 47 numbers left you on the edge of your seat with goose bumps. The cast took every opportunity to leave the stage to perform amongst the audience, culminating in their encore number with members of the audience encouraged up on stage to dance and sing along with them, which they did with great enthusiasm.
It was interesting to see that most of the audience were “silver surfers” perhaps reliving their hippie pasts and thoroughly enjoying every moment of it.
This is a real “raise the roof” production and 50 years on, Hair still rocks!
Music and lyrics by seven-time Grammy Award-nominee Sara Bareilles Book by Jessie Nelson Based upon the motion picture written by Adrienne Shelly Directed by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus
The hosts of the next Waitress LondonCast Album KaraokeNight have been announced today.Laura Baldwin, who plays Dawn in the show, will host the post-show event alongside actressChizzy Akudolu (Holby City, Strictly Come Dancing) on Wednesday 8 May. Audience members can sign up before the show for the chance to sing one minute of any song from Waitress – live on stage at the Adelphi and accompanied by the show’s musical director Katharine Woolley.
The fourth Cast Album Karaoke Night will be in partnership with WhatsOnStage, audience members who sign up before the show to sing a number from Waitress at the karaoke event will also be auditioning in front of a top West End casting director for the chance to win a cameo role – for one night only – in the smash hit musical.
Chizzy Akudolu is best known for her role as Mo Effanga on BBC’s Holby City. Other television credits include BBC’s Eastenders, Death In Paradise, Shakespeare And Hathaway, Tracey Breaks The News, Silent Witness, Mongrels, Twenty Twelve, Unzipped with Miranda Hart. Chizzy’s film credits include County Lines (Two Birds Entertainment/Loupe Films); In The Loop (BBC Films);Dustbin Baby (Kindle Entertainment); The Most Unromantic Man In The World (Burning Vision Entertainment). As well as television and film, Chizzy’s extensive theatre credits include Edmond de Bergerac (Birmingham Repertory Theatre/ UK Tour); The Rec Room (Soho Theatre); Script Slam(Soho Theatre); King Of The Castle (Tell Tarra) The Vagina Monologues (UK Tour); Mixt Nutz(Guilded Balloon); Soho Script Slam, Ready, Steady, Write, The Weave (Soho Theatre); Club V, The Best of Funny Black Women on the Edge (Theatre Royal Stratford East); Blaggers (Aarawak Moon);BBC Talent Urban Sketch Showcase (BBC) and Common Threads (Gwent Theatre).
Waitress celebrated its official opening night on 7 March and the Tony-nominated musical by Sara Bareilles is now booking to 19 October.
London’s brand-new smash hit musical comedy Waitressstars the sensational Katharine McPhee (Scorpion, Smash) as Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams her way out of a loveless marriage. When a hot new doctor arrives in town, life gets complicated. With the support of her workmates Becky and Dawn, Jenna overcomes the challenges she faces and finds that laughter, love and friendship can provide the perfect recipe for happiness.
Brought to life by a ground breaking, female-led creative team, the hit show features an original score by 7-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles (Love Song, Brave), a book by acclaimed screenwriterJessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland) and choreography by Lorin Latarro. The production is currently touring the US and has also announced it will have its Australian premiere in 2020 at the Sydney Lyric Theatre.
Alongside Katharine McPhee as Jenna, Waitress stars Jack McBrayer as Ogie, Marisha Wallace as Becky, Laura Baldwin as Dawn, Peter Hannah as Earl, David Hunter as Dr. Pomatter and Shaun Prendergast as Old Joe.
The full company includes Kelly Agbowu, Laura Baldwin, Piers Bate, Nicole Raquel Dennis, Michael Hamway, Peter Hannah, David Hunter, Stephen Leask, Jack McBrayer, Chris McGuigan, Katharine McPhee, Olivia Moore, Nathaniel Morrison, Sarah O’Connor, Leanne Pinder, Shaun Prendergast, Charlotte Riby, Marisha Wallace and Mark Willshire.
On its Broadway opening, Waitress was nominated for four Outer Critics’ Circle Awards, including Outstanding New Broadway Musical; two Drama League Award Nominations, including Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical; six Drama Desk Nominations, including Outstanding Musical; and four Tony Award Nominations, including Best Musical.
Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester to stage Northern Premiere of true crime death row drama, The Exonerated
Thursday 6 to Sunday 16 June 2019
On sale now
Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester is to stage the Northern Premiere of The Exonerated – a gripping death row drama that is to be reimagined in the style of a television true crime documentary.
Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s play The Exonerated, directed by Hope Mill Artistic Director and co-founder Joseph Houston, will play at the award-winning fringe theatre from Thursday 6 June to Sunday 16 June 2019.
The production will blend live theatre and filmed footage to create a unique, fully integrated multimedia experience, with staging inspired by true crime documentaries currently popular on television streaming services.
It is Hope Mill Theatre’s second in-house play directed by Houston, following a highly successful run of David Auburn’s Proof in 2018.
Taken from interviews, letters, transcripts, case files and the public record, The Exonerated tells true stories of six wrongfully-convicted survivors of death row in their own words.
Moving between first-person monologues, courtrooms and prisons; six interwoven stories paint a picture of an American criminal justice system gone horribly wrong – and of six brave souls who persevered to survive it.
The Exonerated premiered Off Broadway in 2002 (where it won a Lucille Lortel Award and a Drama Desk Award as well as an Outer Critics Circle Award), was made in to a 2005 film starring Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover, and then a production ran at the Riverside Studios in London in 2006.
Artistic Director Joseph Houston, said: “I am thrilled to be directing the Northern Premiere of The Exonerated. When I first read the play I was instantly inspired by these heart-breaking stories of six people wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death row.
“Knowing the power of documentaries like Making a Murderer and The Staircase in highlighting legal injustices and the emotional connection we have to such stories, I knew that Hope Mill was the perfect venue for a ‘Netflix-style’ reimagining of The Exonerated.
“I want this to be a unique theatrical experience that integrates documentary-style filmed footage, but without losing the impact of live theatre.”
The Exonerated is written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, directed by Joseph Houston, filmography by Grant Archer, lighting design by Aaron Dotson and casting by Jane Deitch. Produced by William Whelton for Hope Mill Theatre.
Casting to be announced.
The Exonerated runs at Hope Mill Theatre from Thursday 6 June to Sunday 16 June 2019. Press Night Tuesday 11 June. Tickets, from £10, available from www.hopemilltheatre.co.uk
Handbagged is a comedy about iconic women in Britain, both powerful and strong willed. Following the relationship between Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II, we watch how the two interacted throughout Thatchers time as Prime Minister. The play finds a balance between telling a political story and making sure the audience are entertained. With two actors playing multiple roles, alongside a younger Thatcher and Elizabeth and an older pair of the two. This works surprisingly well on stage with a fair few jokes coming from it. As I’m sure you can imagine theatre doesn’t usually favour the right-wing of politics however it doesn’t slander Thatcher to make her villainous, which is something I liked about the show, instead she was a stubborn and strong woman, by the end of her time as PM one could even say desperate.
With a cast of six, with the two older versions being played by Sarah Crowden as Thatcher and Susan Penhaligon as the Queen, the two do an incredible job of making sure the characters seemed like their real life counterparts. Crowden really gives truth to the Iron Lady name with a firm and seemingly cold nature. Penhaligon takes on a much cheekier approach to the Queen and ensures that the two older character contrast to create the comedy between them. Most of the time on stage alongside them are their younger characters the younger Thatcher was played by Alice Selwyn and Elizabeth by Caroline Harker. Selwyn was the understudy for this show and I have to say she did a blooming good job, there were certain mannerisms that Thatcher was known for, her always composed demeanour and striking eyes. Harker also gave a good contrast to her fellow lady being much friendlier and down to earth. Both pairs of characters would often interact with each other often reflecting on past experiences. The other two actors on stage were just that actors playing actors often switching between roles and talking about their views on politics. Jahvel Hall plays the younger of the actors, someone who wasn’t alive during Thatchers Britain, providing a commentary on certain events that were skipped during the play. Taking up roles such as Nancy Regan as he is is a suit and skirt and Scottish ministers, a lot of comedy came from Hall which worked well with the four ladies. The other actor Andy Secombe however was alive during the time when Thatcher was in power often expressing his left leaning views, playing characters Ronald Regan and Denis Thatcher, his character worked much like Hall’s and often created comedy by flipping between contrasting characters.
As one would expect watching such a show as Handbagged requires a certain level of sophistication and attention as politics can seem very boring, we are very lucky that the play was funny otherwise I would’ve found myself bored. I can under stand how this appeals to an older audience more than a younger one, which the production is aware of, but as someone who never experienced Thatchers Britain I could appreciate and learn from the show.