To the Tricycle theatre in Kilburn last night to see no fewer than nine plays under the banner ‘Women, Power and Politics’.
It was the final night, so unless someone decides to invest in taking them to the West End or around the country, if you have not already been, you may have missed the boat. Pity, because what sounded like a very long haul in theory – more than six hours with a break for dinner – in practice turned out to be a really good night out.
The highlights for me were a very funny play, ‘Handbagged,’ on the relationship between the Queen and Mrs Thatcher (feature film potential I would venture), ‘Bloody Wimmin’ which looked back on the Greenham Common demos and a more modern version of protest at Blackheath, ‘The Panel’ which showed a group of men trying to decide on which woman had done the best interview for a job they were recruiting for, and ‘Acting Leader’ which featured Margaret Beckett’s attempt to follow John Smith as Labour leader.
Those four were, IMHO as we say in twitterland, excellent, the rest – covering the fight for Irish Home Rule, Elizabeth the First, pornography, student politics, and the gap between the life of an MP and the so-called underclass – were merely very good.
Oh, and in addition to the nine plays, there were acted out verbatim interviews dotted through the evening from women politicians as varied as Oona King, Shirley Williams, Edwina Currie, Jacqui Smith and a brilliantly captured (by Kika Markham) Anne Widdecombe.
And then, just when you thought they couldn’t pack any more in to one evening of political entertainment, along comes actor John Hollingworth with a Nick Clegg soliloquoy.
As I tweeted last night, in one of the plays, someone had a great line about Clegg, namely ‘he doesn’t run the country. He just looks like him.’
As Hollingworth started his ‘speech’, Fiona thought he was ‘doing’ Cameron, but the yellow tie made me realise we were into the DPM not the PM here.
As with a lot of what the real Clegg says, writing this the morning after the night before, I cannot remember much of what was said. But I do remember laughing, and I remember the audience laughing at this as much as at anything else the evening had to offer. It confirmed me in my view that as the comedians and satirists mourn the political passing of New Labour’s most satirised figures, amongst whom I would have to include myself, Clegg is being fattened up to help replace us.
What was terrific about Hollingworth’s speech was not just the vacuousness, nor the excellent capture of the many irritating speech mannerisms, but that one really could have imagined Clegg delivering every word, oblivious to the comic aspect.
And then this morning, I turn to the Observer review and find a two-page spread on how cartoonists have so far portrayed the DPM. ‘Nick Clegg as cartoon figure – it’s fun but does it really hurt?’ runs the headline.
The answer is yes, and the best is yet to come.
*** Buy Prelude to Power here at Amazon.