A fabulous disco-laden satire, about homophobia and censorship, comes to Brighton Fringe. In Margaret Thatcher – Queen Of Soho, Britain’s first female Prime Minister finds herself taking up a career in cabaret, in a show that aims to inform, as well as entertain, it’s audience,
This drag musical-comedy extravaganza tells the story of how the homophobic legislation Section 28 came to be. Where in real life it became law, this version sees Maggie get lost in Soho on the eve of the act’s vote. She realises the error of her ways, overturns the bill, and leaves Whitehall to become a gay rights championing cabaret superstar.
The intention isn’t to just do a show for people who grew up in the 80s or indulge in some Thatcher bashing, it’s a fun reflection of difficult times for the British LGBT community. The events that inspired the show didn’t happen that long ago, and similar legislation preventing the promotion of homosexuality is still being introduced around the world.
The show’s creators thought it would be interesting to have the one thing you’d never imagine seeing – Margaret Thatcher singing disco anthems, whilst being adored by the LGBT community. This idea began in October 2012, when Matt Tedford came to playwright Jon Brittain’s Halloween party in character as Mrs Thatcher. When Theatre503 invited Brittain to write a play for Thatcherwrite, a festival of short plays dealing with the Iron Lady’s legacy in the wake of her death, he knew exactly who to call.
Seeing the potential in this short version of Queen of Soho, Theatre503 invited Tedford, Brittain, and producer Áine Flanagan, to extend the show for a full run in December 2013. Little more than a year after Tedford first pulled on the tights for that party he had co-written and was starring in a play that had been getting rave reviews, was going down a storm with audiences, had been published by Methuen and received an Off West End Award nomination for most promising playwright.
The shows transformation of Baroness Thatcher into a gay icon (or bad drag queen) doesn’t take an enormous leap of imagination, let’s be honest. She was, after all, a dominant diva-esque personality, character traits which enabled her to get what she wanted.
With more than a little help from Matt Tedford, BN1 got to have a little chat with the Iron Lady, just before her trip down to Brighton Fringe.
BN1 – How do I address you? Is it Lady, Ms or your Majesty?
MTQoS – I’m Baroness Thatcher, but as we’re friends you can just call me Maggie…
BN1 – Same gender weddings have been legalised now. How does this sit with section 28?
MTQoS – Initially I was NOT keen on the idea of equal marriage, but it seems the only way I can encourage Carol to move out of home. I might finally get my spare room back. As a capitalist I am more than happy with the idea of the Pink Pound, as long as it doesn’t become the Pink euro!
BN1 – There’s positive images of gay people everywhere now, are you worried children are learning they’ve an inalienable right to be homosexual?
MTQoS – It’s more politicians nowadays that make people realise it’s OK to be gay. It’s wonderful to see a same sex couple leading the country!
BN1 – How would you reply to your critics? Some would argue you divided a nation during your premiership?
MTQoS – Like Mick Hucknall, we all did things in the 80s that we’re not proud of. But the wonderful thing about my new career is that I’m able to bring people together through song and laughter. I’m really having a wonderful time.
BN1 – You once said: “The lady’s not for turning!”, but have you never been tempted to eat from the other side of the buffet?
MTQoS – Well, there have been a few times. If you’ve ever heard the Katherine Perry song: ‘I kissed a girl and I liked it’, well I kissed a girl and she liked it. I think she was attracted by my ministerial box.
BN1 – Any good hair tips for all the bouffant enthusiasts out there?
MTQoS – I don’t think the bouffant is used enough in this day and age. I have tried to convince Victoria Beckham that she should have one. I think hair should always make a statement, Up and away from the face, to show them how beautifully invective you really are. …You’re laughing at me dear. I’m being deadly serious!
BN1 – I’m terribly sorry you’re Majesty. You became the first female British Prime minister, but why were you an individualist, rather than a feminist?
MTQoS – I think the problem was, I never met a woman that I actually liked, apart from myself of course.
BN1 – What would you say to the silent majority that never stood up to your government?
MTQoS – Very simply, Thank-you, you made it very easy. There’s nothing better for getting things done than no opposition at all.
BN1 – Is convincing the world you saved Britain from oblivion your greatest achievement?
MTQoS – I think it was one of my finest achievements. My new career in cabaret is my absolute finest achievement.
BN1 – What can people expect from your show at Brighton Fringe?
MTQoS – It’s a wonderful musical gat extravaganza about Section 28, and how I went from being Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to one of the greatest cabaret performers in the world. I’m not number one, no-one’s Ken Dodd, but I am very good.
BN1 – What would you like to say to anyone that ever doubted you?
MTQoS – Come and see the show, and see what real talent and real conviction can get you!
Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho comes to Upstairs at Three and Ten, on Mon 5 – Wed 7 May at 10pm and Wed 21 – Thu 22 May at 9.30om, as part of Brighton Fringe.