Matt Tedford has the sparkling eyes of someone destined to be on stage – and not just because he’s playing a woman who also knew a fair bit about performing, Margaret Thatcher. Having spent the past five years working in roles including a civil servant, this satirical drag musical (co-written with Jon Brittain) is both a comeback for him and the Iron Lady. For anyone who is nostalgic for 1980s pop culture and has conflicted feelings about one of the UK’s most iconic leaders and provocative hate figures, it’s a glittering ride into a wryly observed idealised past: one where Section 28 was never passed and Thatcher was a cabaret queen.
Developed from a tight little short, performed at Theatre503’s Thatcherwrite season, the funny yet warm-hearted script is longer and looser than it once was, but extra characters (including panto villain Jill Knight and testosterone-fuelled leftie Peter Tatchell), played with exuberant flair by Robert Cawsey and Ed Yelland, make it all the richer.
A reflective final scene touchingly brings us back to reality, while some terrific one-liners and visual gags resurrect the spirit of the alternative comedy scene. Anyone who mourns that this died with the 1980s probably hasn’t seen this show. I await the West End transfer (with live band).
Theatre503, London. Until 11 January.
Written for The Stage