Edinburgh Fringe 2015
“Fringe sensation, Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho, returns after 2014’s total sell-out run (and at London’s Leicester Square Theatre) in the drag comedy musical extravaganza like no other! On the eve of the vote on Section 28 Maggie gets lost in Soho and accidentally becomes a cabaret superstar, but will she change her mind about the homophobic bill before it’s too late…'” Directed by Jon Brittain; starring Matt Tedford, Nico Lennon & Ed Yelland.
Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho is a camp odyssey in which the Iron Lady gets lost in Soho on the eve of the vote for the homophobic Section 28 and accidentally becomes an overnight cabaret sensation. This is a not–to-be missed production on every level. Farce is always funny and all we really want from a show is to be entertained, but this production is so much more than entertainment. It has a message so profound it should be shown over and over again to people who hate and people who judge and condemn others. It should be repeated in universities, corporations, banks and legislative bodies until finally the message gets through. Matt Tedford’s Margaret Thatcher is telling us that we are human beings, all of us, and that is what is good about us all. One of the comments to Thatcher is “You would have to be a person to understand (what we mean) like any other,” and that says it all. People living with people is what this world is about. Diversity is what makes us who we are.
Tedford convinces us using the most effective, powerful tools there are: song, dance, satire and comedy. This show is non-stop laughter. When Tedford asks “Are you ready for the great experience of your life?” That is the only line in the show when he isn’t kidding. He tells us “I used to be the Barbra Streisand of politics. Now, I am the Margaret Thatcher of entertainment.” And off we go into the world that was London in 1988. This is high-energy antics and crazy song and dance that pounds out its theme over and over again. We see, we hear, we feel and we laugh at how ridiculous, how nonsensical, how stupid homophobia is.
Tedford’s Thatcher is asked by one of his Pet Shop Boys (the versatile, delightful and talented Nico Lennon and Ed Yelland) “How did you go from being Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to one of the biggest entertainers in the world?” and proceeds to entertain us as we have never been entertained before. The production brought ever member of the audience to its feet, people of every age and nationality.
“I disapprove of homosexuals life choice but I have no problem with them individually.” Lines like that don’t just make you laugh; they make you think.
The action takes place on the eve of the vote for Section 28 a controversial bill that prevents teachers from promoting homosexuality in schools. The book that started the whole furor is called “Jeremy lives with Eric and Martin” and one of the points Tedford makes is that Thatcher had not even read the text before she tried to ban it. “Maybe you should read it.” says the character named What’s His Name. (Really)
“We all did it at school,” says the Jill Knight character. “Polio wasn’t the only reason Roosevelt couldn’t stand up.” Margaret Thatcher says, “Homosexual feelings are something they grow out of like empathy.” You simply cannot beat a comment like that for driving the message home.
The audience was in stitches; they sang along; they clapped; they stamped their feet and they tailed Tedford as he left the show to tell him how wonderful he was. But they were meant to do more than laugh at this marvelous farce about our right to be human. One would hope that what “Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho” told them sinks into their psyche and convinces them that being different and true to ourselves is the one right we all must have everywhere in the world. Do not miss this show.