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Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho

Off The Kerb/Theatre503/Aine Flanagan Productions

Genre: Cabaret

Venue: Assembly George Square Gardens


Low Down

Britain’s first female Prime Minister is brought to screaming life in this loud and cheeky drag satire.


From the moment I walked into Assembly Festival’s Bosco tent singing along to Shania Twain, to the moment I left following the Iron Lady herself to the bar, I was smiling. I could end the review there.

Off The Kerb in partnership with Theatre503 and Aine Flanagan Productions have brought a real treat to Edinburgh. I attended Maggie’s show on a completely sold out night, surrounded by a slightly tipsy crowd ready for some fun. And I imagine it’s like that every night. 
Immediately we’re introduced to Matt Tedford’s Margaret Thatcher, an actually quite good recreation of the woman herself who doesn’t so much sing songs; rather, she delivers every lyric of every song like a weighty, earnest, manic political point. By her side are short-short sporting Ed Yelland and Nico Lennon, her camp, bouncy sidekicks known as Hesel and Tine, or The Wets.
No sooner has Maggie offered an audience member a carton of milk (which, of course, she very quickly snatches away again) than we are taken on a breakneck explanation of how she attained the title ‘Queen of Soho’. The story revolves around the Section 28 controversy of 87/88 and The Wets play every other character Maggie encounters: from an anarchistic Peter Tatchell to a devilish Jill Knight, from a wizardy Ian McKellen to some rah-rah Lords.
The singing and shrieking became painfully loud at some points, the references never left the pop-politics safety zone and the same gay joke – public school, the army, boys clubs, we all like a bit of that blah blah – was milked until it was withered and dry. But what do you expect? I can’t have been expecting a real meaningful point from any of this, can I?!
Tacky cardboard props, the entire musical cannon of G.A.Y and a neon ‘Maggie’ sign all place us firmly and proudly in the land of drag, cabaret and trash. It’s joyful, it’s outrageous and it’s just great fun.
At the end of Queen of Soho the whole audience were on their feet cheering and dancing, and everyone left with a whole lotta love for Margaret Thatcher. A strange and unsavoury result, but one that proves Tedford’s skill in creating a loveable heroine in the shape of our most controversial PM.