Thatcher's Children @ The Arches
Old-school satire is increasingly hard to come by today, but Gary Gardiner seems hell-bent on bringing it back.
Last year, his Arches Live! show focused on the capitalist monopolising of Christmas: Santa: A Very Merry Businessman won him the Platform 18 award for his cutting take on the festive season. This time however, the Iron Lady is subject to his barbs.
Gardiner’s humour does not deal in subtlety, so it is key to just embrace the rubber Thatcher masks, absurdist dance routines and power-point photos which rub up uncomfortably against Tory polemic and grainy Falklands footage, to the soundtrack of Thatcher Fucked The Kids by Frank Turner, The Specials’ Ghost Town and his own take on ACDC’s You’ve Got Big Balls. Of course, stripping away the parody and more knockabout elements leaves a serious statement about Margaret Thatcher’s lasting legacy: that of privatization; rejection of a collective responsibility as indicated in her “no such thing as society” speech and the ownership of council houses, echoed today in Cameron’s government.
Lucy Gaizley’s wild-eyed emulation of her speeches is brilliant and seems steeped in genuine rage, while Thomas Hobbins is always funny - his faux-naivety hugely endearing. At over an hour, the satire does start to lag (the Meryl Streep references in particular), despite the company's admirable energy, spirit and some Devo-shafting-Steps moves. Some people in the audience roar with laughter, others look merely nonplussed (too young to remember the era, perhaps). It is as divisive in fact, as Maggie herself - but surely that’s the point.