“Where there are discos, may we bring harmonies.”
— Margaret Thatcher, Queen of Soho —
What started out as a 15-minute sketch at Theatre503’s Thatcherwrite season — a series of short plays based on the life of Margaret Thatcher staged in response to her death, in 2013 — have expanded deservingly into a full hour of boisterous and hilariously funny drag cabaret.
Margaret Thatcher, Queen of Soho, is led by the brilliant Matthew Tedford who presents The Iron Lady as a gay icon all dragged up in a two-piece tweed suit, feather boas and stony gin-and-tonic voice.
While watching this uproarious account of Lady Thatcher’s rise from divisive politician to ‘cabaret superstar’, I could not help but to wonder: Why did nobody make this observation while she was alive? It was all there, right in front of our eyes… the pearls, the signature handbag, the unsightly practical flat heels… even the hair screamed drag queen with a capital ‘D’.
Any who, those were different times.
Unlike the satirical backdrop of Thatcher’s drag act in G.A.Y., in the real world under Thatcher’s iron fist 1988 was a riotous time of discontent. The gay community in particular suffered a heavy blow with the introduction of Section 28, a controversial law prohibiting the ‘promotion’ (read ‘education’) of homosexuality in schools.
Thatcher was not our friend.
However, Margaret Thatcher, Queen of Soho, attempts (and certainly succeeds) to rewrite the pains from the past into something more of a fluffy pantomime as it imagines Thatcher making a wrong turn on the eve of the vote for Section 28. Maggie gets lost in Soho and accidentally finds herself in the glittering and gloriously camp club, G.A.Y., where she erupts into song and dance, performing hits like ‘It’s Raining Men’ and Bonnie Tyler’s ‘We Need A Hero‘.
A cabaret superstar is born!
But will the Iron Lady change her mind about the homophobic Section 28 before it’s too late?
Dame Edna has an unlikely rival in Matthew Tedford as he delivers Lady Thatcher with panache while capturing her every mannerism with alarming precision — and that in itself is ‘revenge’ enough… the sequins, hotpants and mustached wingmen flanking Maggie simply make this punchy political satire deliciously sweeter.
Margaret Thatcher, Queen of Soho is a camp odyssey about gay rights, the 80s and disco! It is a brilliant make-believe reconciliation between the gay community and a lady who suddenly is for turning. (If only things were that simple back then…No regrets!)
Camper than Christmas, glamorous, outrageous and even a bit horrifying. Comedy genius! A guaranteed laugh-a-minute — unless you’re a Daily Mail reader… or a Thatcherite… and there should be a special award for the line “Where there are discos, may we bring harmonies.”
Bitchy and regal, Margaret Thatcher makes the perfect drag queen all thanks to Tedford and his supporting cast. I suspect a full West End transfer is on the cards.
Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho plays at the Leicester Square Theatre until 21 March. Click here to book tickets.