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Margaret Thatcher, an interview

1 December 2013 Charlie Kenber

Maggie lives on in this great alternative Christmas show

This Christmas Theatre503 are rebelling against the normal commercialised Christmas fare. To mark the occasion we caught up with those behind two the shows: in this edition it’s writer Jon Brittain and performer Matthew Tedford from Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho.

LC: What can you tell us about the show?

Matt: It’s a drag comedy Christmas extravaganza about Margaret Thatcher and section 28.

Jon: It features Baroness Knight as a pantomime villain, Peter Tatchell as played by Ray Winstone and a cameo from Ian Mckellen with the best joke in the show. Oh, and Thatcher is played by a man.

Matt: Me! Also, I give the audience the chance to sing along with me, so it’s the only place you’ll find a bunch of liberal theatre-goers in harmony with the Iron Lady.

LC: How did you go about making it?

Jon: With some cardboard, pipe cleaners and sticky back plastic.

Matt: We originally performed the show at the Thatcherwrite Festival at Theatre503 in June where it went down really well, and when the theatre asked us if we could extend the piece for Christmas we jumped at the chance. Little did we know it would involve months of sleepless nights sat in front of a computer pulling our hair out with the writing, hours and hours of pouring through Thatcher biographies looking for inspiration, and weeks of prancing around a rehearsal room trying to come up with a suitable dance routine to represent the miners strikes.

LC: Is it something of a rebellion against the traditional Christmas production?

Matt: Well, in Thatcher we pretty much have the ultimate pantomime dame… But we’ve switched magic lamps, sleeping princesses and glass slippers for handbags, backing dancers in hot pants, and a whole lot of glitter.

Jon: Seriously though, she goes on a Christmas Carol style journey from being a supporter of the anti homosexual legislation Section 28 to one of the greatest all round entertainers in the world.

Matt: But how? Well, you’ll have to come along…

LC: Who do you think the show appeals to?

Matt: Anyone who has a sense of humour, twelve pounds and a lactose intolerance. Because there will beno free milk.

LC: How did you get into creating this kind of work?

Jon: I’ve been a playwright and director for around four years and until recently was a resident writer at Theatre503. Matt went to university with me but had not acted at all since. But in 2012 he came to my Halloween party dressed as the Iron Lady herself, and wowed everyone with his uncanny and hilarious impression. So earlier this year when the Thatcherwrite festival was announced and Jon was asked if he wanted to contribute a play, he knew exactly who to call…

Matt: But Meryl wasn’t available.

LC: How is it performing in a space like Theatre503?

Matt: We had a lovely time performing at Theatre503 at Thatcherwrite earlier this year, it’s a really intimate space and suits our outrageous and silly play down to the ground.

Jon: Theatre503 has been a fervent supporter of my writing over the years. Who else would have let me and my best mate put on a show as mad as this?

Matt: And it’s got a bar downstairs! It serves whiskey, I’m sure Maggie would have approved.

LC: What have you got planned for the New Year?

Matt:  Hopefully we’ll be sat somewhere drinking wine and celebrating our sell out, critically acclaimed show. And, if we’re not too exhausted we’ll be planning what we do next. There are other female politicians in the world and it’s an adjustable wig.

TICKET COMPETITION! We have an exclusive offer to win a pair of tickets for the show – go here for further details. Offer closes at midnight on 11th December, so sign up now!

Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho is on at Theatre503 from 10th December until 4th January. Tickets available here.

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