REVIEW: Meet The Real Maggie Thatcher (Oldham Coliseum)

Meet The Real Maggie Thatcher by Gerundagula Productions
Meet The Real Maggie Thatcher
by Gerundagula Productions
upstaged rating: 

During the last few months we have been bombarded with referendum discourse and despite it being three years since the Iron Lady’s death, her name still manages to find itself firmly woven into the Brexit headlines. Considering the current political climate, it feels quite apt to watch Mike Francis Carvalho’s intriguing one-man show which is based on conversations with real people about Margaret Thatcher.

It must be difficult to write and perform a piece about one of the most discussed and loathed (or loved) politicians of all time but Mike Francis Carvalho manages to create an extraordinarily refreshing piece of theatre. Thoughtful and commanding, Meet The Real Maggie Thatcher refuses to bow down to any of the well-worn cliches that have gone before.

Meet The Real Maggie Thatcher puts a range of different opinions and truths forward through a collection of different characters. The through-line seems to take an anti-Thatcher stance but all of the characters are measured, fully realised and perceptive. Mike Francis Carvalho gives a finely nuanced, highly compelling and passionate  performance – he presents the characters and their opinions to his audience and leaves them to find their own conclusions.

A series of voices create a richly layered landscape depicting the turbulent years under Margaret Thatcher’s leadership. There’s a softly spoken policeman, a striking miner, a Chelsea football fan and a teacher who struggles to find sense in the sinister and ridiculous Section 28, which thankfully was never enforced. Francis Carvalho plays the roles with a range of different accents and physicality, fully showcasing his versatility and conviction as a performer.

There’s a cracking opener from Francis Carvalho, which I have promised to keep shtum about and there is also a thoughtful and emotive soundtrack which links fluidly through from one monologue to the next.

Meet The Real Maggie Thatcher is a powerful piece of theatre which manages to evoke strong emotion while also leaving space for the audience to reflect. A pleasing piece of theatre for those who remember and were affected by Margaret Thatcher’s rule, but also highly compelling and educational for those who weren’t.

Meet The Real Maggie Thatcher stops in next at The Quarry Theatre, Bedford on the 22nd July 2016 and you can get your tickets here.