(Seen at the performance on 7th April 2014).
For those who found “The Audience” a little to po-faced last year, this is the
perfect antidote. A thundering good melding of politics and comedy, this should
by rights be set to run as long as the Iron Lady herself.
It’s smart, funny and clever – and not just in
that order. By using “Old” and “Young” versions of the same character, we get
simultaneous views and reviews of what is going on and what went on. Privy to
both conversations and thoughts, plus the arguments they cause, it’s a fine
structure to begin with.
A highly sophisticated comedy, Marion Bailey,
Stella Gonet, Lucy Robinson and Fenella Woolgar working together give us a
revealing and amusing insight into the relationship between two of the most
powerful women of the 20th Century. And that is before two manic ideas tear down
the barriers between audience and cast – or should that be subjects and
electorate – totally.
Two men, the ever-renowned genius that is Jeff
Rawle and hugely talented Neet Mohan between them divide (reluctantly in some
cases) the men who orbited these ladies’ lives. Both men at points draw gasps of
admiration at their inventiveness, and amuse even more than they convince.
Even better, with the “fourth wall” often
breached, and a wonderful moment at the start of the second half (the monkey
says no more), a bond is formed that grows stronger throughout the evening.
Scarily, the monkey remembers every event in the
1979 to 1990 time period that they cover – and almost agreed with the Kinnock
address at the start of the second half.
It’s partly an evening of reminiscence, partly
political satire, but never dull and more about people than politics. A history
lesson for some, a fascinating reminder for others, and unmissable for anyone
who likes to think as much as laugh heartily for two entertaining hours.