Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 enacted by Margaret Thatcher’s conservative government, stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. The legislation caused many serious dilemmas within schools regarding the legality of what could and could not be discussed with the children. Many lesbian, gay and bisexual student support groups were forced to close, and organisations like Stonewall, OutRage! And Schools Out were consequentially formed to help combat homophobia within schools.
What if that piece of legislation was never passed? What if the Iron Lady, by some fabulous coincidence had had a change of heart? What if she, on the eve of the vote in May 1988, accidently found herself deep within the heart of Soho?
Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho offers a raucously camp insight into that scenario. It’s a drag, cabaret, musical comedy which comments loudly and proudly on discrimination and prejudice through some masterful story telling by the three cast members. Matt Tedford by some artistic genius offers a Maggie Thatcher that you are guaranteed to love no end. His portrayal of her, although ridiculous and camp, is in an odd way incredibly accurate and ultimately brilliant. Tedford also wrote the piece, along with with Jon Brittain. Topped off hilariously by the two supporting actors Nico Lennon and Ed Yelland who play a variety of different iconic figures both political and public from Ian McKellen to Jill Knight. The three balance this piece perfectly, enabling a chaotic and ludicrous show as a slick and deliberate comedy. Regular heckling and some ad-libing from the cast only accentuate the hilarity and encourage Tedford’s improvisational prowess. God save you if you do heckle is all I can say! With regular comments on current political affairs, Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho is a topical feast of political satire, worked ingeniously by some incredibly funny people.
Reviewed by Bob Galereux