The play, a comedy, examines the Thatcher years and the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher. "To handbag" was already colloquial usage, meaning "to hit someone with a handbag", but it came to be used figuratively in describing Margaret Thatcher's approach to politics.
Jan Bradley renders a stately elder Queen while Danielle Devitt her younger version, Liz. Deborah Todd captures the retired prime minster, while Shannon Emery plays Mags while in office. It is a fast paced reading that goes back and forth in a discourse between the characters as to what really happened and what was imagined. It examines who welded political power and whose voice offered a constant reminder that they were the royal “We.” Bruce Miroglio is a credible Reagan who woos both the Queen and Prime Minister, and David Foushee plays a biting Shea, secretary to the Queen.
Thatcher: Deborah Todd
Mags (Young Thatcher): Shannon Emery
Queen Elizabeth II: Jan Bradley
Liz (Young Queen): Danielle Devitt
President Reagan: Bruce Miroglio
Michael Shea, secretary to the Queen: David Foushee
Handbagged as a play reading on April 16th at the St Helena Library; as you can imagine, we’ve needed to make it into a Zoom presentation. Many members of our community have become fans of Downton Abbey and the Crown, so I felt that a piece on Thatcher and the Queen would be fun. We had hoped to include a high tea with the event, but, alas, it is not to be. Since the onset of shelter-in-place, we have been rehearsing on Zoom. The cast and I have been meeting to discuss the characters’ motivation and rehearsing ways to give an authentic performance on the Zoom format.
Handbagged was first presented in 2009 at Tricycle Theater in London as part of the Women, Power and Politics season. I was drawn to the clever dialogue between the characters and intrigued by the play’s content, which focused on the political climate during the time of Apartheid. The play examines its effect on racial segregation and discrimination, as well as the widening gap between the wealthy and the poor. I believe that this particular work gives us a historical perspective into the racial and economic disparity we see today.