This acts as great material for some show stopping songs. Unfortunately, there are two problems here; the numbers are few and far between and Jill Dowse's lyrics are not memorable enough to have you singing along in unison. Not totally her fault though as there is too much incident to pack into each track. This means that too often the lyrical content fades from memory almost immediately.
It can be done, though, as is proved by the song "Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher" from the hit musical Billy Elliot which packs in more biting humour in four minutes than this show can muster up in two and a half hours. New takes on old songs may have worked better. "Two Tribes" or "Ghost Town" highlight the era and elements of Maggie's reign perfectly.
The cast pull out all the stops despite some of the obvious flaws. Sarah Thom’s narrator Maggie is totally convincing throughout, as is Kath Burlinson as Britannia Maggie. Both exude the charm, school ma’am strictness and an inner strength when chaos ensues. The ensemble play a variety of roles and work hard at keeping the audience entertained even when the whole concept aims too high.
Of the many highlights "Cabinet Shuffle" features Thatcher's men represented as lap dogs, vying for attention. Also watching Lady Thatcher emerge from a giant handbag raises a smile as it is so iconic of the times. Spitting Image often springs to mind, as does Jerry Springer The Opera but for all the wrong reasons; they both hit their targets more accurately. Many audience members were laughing at the in jokes about the True Blues as younger members sat clueless. Too much ground is covered in act one.
Ultimately this is an enjoyable night with many amusing moments. It should be applauded for its fresh approach to an old subject. But like Thatch herself, it outstays its welcome.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at the Lowry, Salford)