Review: Handbagged, Women, Power and Politics at the Tricycle

Play number 2 of the Then half of Women, Power and Politics season at the Tricycle Theatre

 

“’I never said there was no such thing as society’
‘Yes you did, it was in Women’s Own!’”

Written by Moira Buffini, soon to become the second living female playwright to have a play performed on the Olivier stage at the National Theatre (although by saying that am I undermining what this season is trying to achieve? I know it shouldn’t matter but surely it is significant enough to mention?), Handbagged is an extremely witty look at what the relationship between the Queen of England and Margaret Thatcher might have been like. Thatcher had a weekly audience with Elizabeth II during her Prime Ministership and this could be seen as the most constant professional relationship she had with another woman during that time, but it was not the easiest of times between the two as we see here.

They were tested by a range of major challenges. Like Reagan’s invasion of Grenada, supported by Thatcher but as a Commonwealth country the Queen had an interest as the Head of State there, and the Queen took great exception to not being fully included in the consultations around it. Like Thatcher’s rejection of sanctions against South Africa in order to try and weaken apartheid, something supported by the Queen as she felt it was threatening the stability of the Commonwealth. Like the Sunday Times’ alleged exposé of the rift between the women, leaked (or was it?) by the Queen’s Press Secretary Michael Shea, a waggish Simon Chandler in an excellent cameo here. Continue reading “Review: Handbagged, Women, Power and Politics at the Tricycle”

Review: The Milliner and the Weaver, Women, Power and Politics at the Tricycle

Play number one of the Then half of Women, Power and Politics season at the Tricycle Theatre

“They’ve got eyes in their arses in this street”

The Milliner and the Weaver is set in 1914 and looked at the relationship between Henrietta from Belfast and Elspeth from Dublin, worlds apart socially but bound together by their joint participation in the suffragette movement. However, the long-running debate about Home Rule in Ireland threatens to break this unlikely alliance as Elspeth makes an unscheduled visit to Belfast.

It was well acted, Niamh Cusack was good as the downtrodden Henrietta, resigned to the realities of her situation and the need to exercise caution in fighting for social change, after all she needs to go on living where she does no matter how unpopular her actions. And Stella Gonet, resplendent in Victorian costume (which is as close as I’ve ever seen her to her House of Elliott character, which was a thrill in itself!) matched her well with her Elspeth, clearly not used to dealing with people not from her social strata. Continue reading “Review: The Milliner and the Weaver, Women, Power and Politics at the Tricycle”