REVIEW: Handbagged, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Until October 31

Handbagged is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.
Handbagged is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

One laughed one’s socks off at this Royally-funny comedy show.

Handbagged imagines the weekly conversations between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher while she was Prime Minister.

Of course, the Queen is the only person left who knows exactly what was said over those years, but this show does an incredible job of guessing.

T (Kate Fahy) is first to take to the stage, announcing that she will wait for one of the men to bring her a chair.

But when Q (Susie Blake) arrives and drags one downstage for her, the tone is set for a delightful evening of giggles.

The pair act as narrators while Emma Handy and Sanchia McCormack act out their conversations as a younger Liz and Mags, respectively.

Susie Blake as the Queen and Kate Fahy as Margaret Thatcher in Handbagged at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

Susie Blake as the Queen and Kate Fahy as Margaret Thatcher in Handbagged at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

In theory, the show should be a bit dull. The staging is extremely minimalist and the show is quite static, but it’s a marvellous piece of theatre.

The fourth wall isn’t just broken through, it’s completely demolished as Q and T look out to the audience, correct the story by telling us what they actually said or really thought, and when Q announces that “one would like an interval” the crowd fell into hysterics.

Actors Asif Khan and Richard Teverson fill in the rest of the characters, including Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Denis Thatcher and the Queen’s press secretary Michael Shea.

The pair quickly swap accents and demeanours expertly, and create delightful comedy moments as they interrupt the play to pull Thatcher up on the omission of things like the miners’ strike in the retelling of her years in Number 10 and to argue over who gets to play certain characters.

Of course, the conversations between the Queen and Thatcher are entirely imagined, but the thought of Her Majesty referring to the notorious leader as ‘that bloody woman’ really did tickle my funny bone.

The play is wonderfully witty and quintessentially British.

I’ll admit, my knowledge of Thatcher’s years is basic, at best, but that didn’t matter. The cast were there to walk you through everything.

Of course, the conversations between the Queen and Thatcher are entirely imagined, but the thought of Her Majesty referring to the notorious leader as ‘that bloody woman’ really did tickle my funny bone.

Handbagged runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, October 31. Click here to book tickets.

Twitter: @vickinewmanjp