Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Pip Utton: Playing Maggie, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Billy Barrett.
Following in the footsteps of last Fringe’s Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho and Meryl Streep herself, Pip Utton takes on the Iron Lady in this interactive solo show. First standing at the podium to read well-worn speeches, then in the hot-seat to answer our questions, Utton gives a sympathetic portrayal of the divisive Baroness – framed as a monologue by a fictional actor, Simon, whose family history in coal mining complicates his relationship to the role.
Utton’s performance is impeccably researched and observed, capturing the late prime minister’s clipped tones and deep baritone, as well as her ability to charm. He works his audience confidently with off-the-cuff put-downs and a clearly encyclopaedic knowledge of Thatcher’s personal and political life during her time in government and the subsequent New Labour years.
However, there’s not quite enough focus on Simon and his preparations for the performance to make him a fully formed character himself, leaving the emotional impact of his story somewhat diluted by its feeling like an unnecessary framing device. The provocative potential of raising Thatcher’s ghost as Britain begins a second Conservative term is also lost in the show’s insistence on political neutrality, meaning that it ultimately lacks bite.
Assembly Rooms (Venue 20) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 11 August 2015
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