Playing Maggie... The Iron Lady

Fringe favourite Pip Utton returns for his superlative performance of Margaret Thatcher in his enlightening and intimate show Playing Maggie…The Iron Lady. However this isn’t just a simple impersonation: this show operates on multiple levels with Utton first playing an actor named Simon, who in turn is preparing to play Maggie, allowing Utton to explore multiple perspectives and make us think more deeply about the issues raised in the show.

Mixes the personal and the political together whilst also making us reconsider our own views

It begins with Simon opening up fan mail, with audience members praising his performance and proving how much of an evil witch she was or what a wonderful leader she was, depending on the writer’s point of view. It’s an ingenious way of making us consider our own internal biases, forcing us to consider the rest of the performance with an attempt at objectivity. What follows is a short speech from Maggie and then a 40-minute Q&A in which we see that Utton doesn’t just play Maggie, he is Maggie. Answering questions from the audience, he displays such a deep understanding of her and is completely immersed in the little-known and lost facts, so his answers come effortlessly and are completely believable.

However the show jumps into a different league when Utton switches from playing Maggie to Simon, debating the ethics of playing Maggie in the first place – it’s certainly a twist that will make your head spin and demands you reconsider everything you thought about the Iron Lady, Utton and the show itself up until this point.

In a heartbreakingly poignant confessional Simon informs us of his own working-class background and his conflicted feelings about the closure of the mines and his new status as a class traitor for playing the Evil Milk Snatcher herself. It’s a masterstroke that mixes the personal and the political together whilst also making us reconsider our own views. There aren’t any easy answers because they simply don’t exist. Utton just asks us to consider all the points of view regardless of our own political persuasions.

Reviews by Liam Rees

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Performances

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The Blurb

Pip Utton is a Fringe favourite. He is recognised as one of the world’s leading solo performers and writers for his spellbinding portrayals of Hitler, Bacon, Dickens, Chaplin, Churchill and the Hunchback. His performances have garnered praise and many awards internationally. Playing Maggie won the Stage Special Award 2015, the FringeReview.co.uk Outstanding Theatre Award 2015 and the Valery Kazhanov Award 2016, presented at the Fujairah International Arts Festival by the International Theatre Institute. ‘A remarkable and original show’ (Guardian). ‘Landslide satisfaction’ (Daily Telegraph). ‘Evocative, provocative… fascinating hour’ (TheatreGuideLondon.co.uk).

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