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West End Theatre On A Budget: Handbagged Q&A

We challenged our Spontaneity Champion, Jamie, to try and be spontaneous without breaking the bank. So last week he went to see a West End theatre production to prove that you can still go and see a top London show even if you're on a tight budget. Here's how he got on.

What did you go and see and why?

I went to see the Olivier Award winning production of Handbagged.


The show in three words

Queen vs Thatcher

Where was it on?

The Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand.

How much did the night cost?

Not much at all! We went to an all you can eat sushi dinner at Hi Sushi Izakaya, Catherine Street, beforehand for £19.80 each. The tickets themselves were £15 each in the lastminute.com "May Fever" sale, and we grabbed a glass of wine at half time. So that comes to about £39 each.

What's it about?

A very funny and razor sharp look at what the weekly meetings between the Queen and Mrs Thatcher may have been like.

Tell us a brief plot synopsis

The play revolves solely around the relationship between the Queen and Mrs Thatcher during the twelve years of their weekly meetings in the palace. Whilst no-one knows what was said behind those closed doors, Moira Buffini’s speculation is wholly credible and very enjoyable. The opening scene presents us with the rather awkward meeting of the two on Thatcher’s appointment to PM. By the end of the play, when Thatcher is forced to step down twelve years later, we, the audience, have been through the highs and lows of their relationship. They each attempt to remain courteous to the other, but also exert the influence on the major events of British politics during the 1980s.

handbagged production shot
handbagged production shot

What were the highlights?

There are only six actors in the whole production. The two male actors manage to play seventeen different roles between them, with excellent comedic effect. In a stroke of genius, Buffini has ‘doubled up’ the roles of both the Queen and Thatcher, so that we see both parts played in the younger and later years of the relationship. This allows for some really unusual and funny interactions. Fenella Woolgar as the young ‘Mags’ was amazing.

Were there any lowlights?

Honestly, very few. All six of the cast were excellent and there was never a dull moment. Perhaps my only gripe would be more my own fault than theirs - and that's simply down to a few omissions in my own knowledge of British politics during this era.

Who would you recommend it to and why?

Anyone interested in seeing a laugh out loud, razor sharp production which is both poignant and cutting in places. Just make sure you’ve boned up on your 80’s British politics! To find out the latest prices on West End Shows, including Handbagged, visit our Theatre deals page.