Handbags at dawn and finding your lost son

Just a quick review on a play recently seen and a film I’ve just come back from seeing.

Haven’t been out and about much recently due to pressures at home and charity work – had a meeting at the House of Commons nicely hosted for us by Sarah Teather our local MP for our local Town Team – of which i am now Chair as it moves towards a charity and lots of items have come out of that! So busy with family too, but did manage to see a brilliant play at our local theatre – the Tricycle – called Handbagged.

The play was written by Moira Buffini and it is a set of sketches imagining the interactions between Maggie Thatcher and our Queen at their weekly meetings.

Maggie and Liz

There are 2 Thatchers and 2 Queens related to the two ages of Thatcher’s parliaments. And 2 other actors who play all the other parts.

Part of the fun of the play are the siad comments between actors and the to the audience – so the play does not become heavy and politicised at all. And for the ‘younger’ members of the audience who don’t remember Maggie’s eras there are occasional explanations of major issues.

We loved these short conversations when the actors came out of character and there was a lovely argument about whether or not there should be an interval, and I quote (One delightful thing about this theatre is they often give you a copy of the script with your ticket):

Q: “I don’t want this to get dull and there’s a lot to get through before the interval”.

T: We don’t need an interval.

Q: what?

T: I’s like to go right through.

Q: But I enjoy the interval. sometimes it’s the best part of the play.

And after the interval they came back to the stage through the audience and as I was sitting on the end of a row with lemonade in my hand I was asked by the older Queen if I had a G&T in it – her favourite tipple we are led to believe… the joy of a small theatre.

And we have just come from one of the smallest cinemas where we saw Philomena.

Now I remember vividly the play on the TV some years back about the Magdalene Girls and the scandal it caused in the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland when it all came out. How the girls who had become pregnant outside of marriage were taken into the convents where they gave birth and were then separated from their children – who were given or ‘sold’ to childless couples. The girls worked their debt off in the convent many never coming out again, and many working the laundry doing all the work by hand.

Philomena is a true story and is based on a true story book : The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son And A Fifty Year Search by Martin Sixsmith. Steve Coogan took the book and turned into a heart wrenching film about the horrors that bearing an illegitimate child brought to bear in Ireland at this time. And the cynical connivance of the Church to cover it up when they realised just what the current opinion of them was. It is so reminiscent of the orphans to  Canada abuse that happened in the UK and the view that such children were commodities that could be effectively sold. We thought it was a good film and admired Steve Coogan playing straight – not our favourite comedian but he did an excellent acting job here and really got into the Sixsmith (who I vaguely remember in the original) part. And what can one say about Judi Dench? She is always magnificent and really the best around, without doubt.

It is interesting to go to the LEXI cinema for our first time. For a start we sat in lounge armchairs and enjoyed our first visit very much to this tiny place which  is the UK’s first social enterprise independent boutique digital cinema  – they donate 100% of their profits to charity and are staffed predominantly by passionate local volunteers. “We like to think we’re improving the quality of life for everyone in our little corner of northwest London and at the same time making a difference to the quality of life for a very different community on the other side of the world.”  The charity supports ethical farming in Africa.



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