Review: ‘Hilarious’ ★★★★ Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows, Underbelly Festival

Finding the ‘Weakest Link’ or someone ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ among our British politicians isn’t currently a very a difficult task and in Jon Brittain’s new satirical show at Underbelly Festival, the Iron Lady herself is posing some tricky questions, for the baying hoards to enjoy.

The show follows the tremendous success of Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho and this time sees the former Prime Minister, played by Matt Tedford, enlist some unsuspecting onlookers to take part in classic game shows aimed to thoroughly dis the current political climate.

Writer, Jon Brittain, has had to rewrite much of the show, with the political landscape continuing in an almost constant state of fluctuation since the show premiered at Edinburgh last year.

Alongside some dancing assistants called Strong and Stable the frivolity is maintained as the NHS, human rights and, of course, Brexit are all given a good sardonic seeing to.

There are also some fabulous faux cameo appearances from Nicola Sturgeon, Nigel Farage and Angela Merkel, but it’s the Iron Lady (complete with perfectly coiffed hair and the obligatory wrist mounted handbag), who calls the shots in this hilarious evening of merriment.

Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows continues at Underbelly Festival until 2 July 

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Interview: Olivier Award winner, Jon Brittain tells us about Rotterdam ahead of its West End Transfer

After first being staged at the 60-seat Theatre 503 in Battersea, Jon Brittain’s seminal work entitled Rotterdam has continued to gain enormous critical acclaim, much to its writer’s astonishment and he told us, “What’s happened to the show so far has taken me by surprise.”

The play transferred to the Trafalgar Studios and gained the playwright an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. It also featured last month in New York at the Brits Off Broadway festival and will open at the Arts Theatre in June for a strictly limited West End run.

Jon Brittain at the Olivier Awards, where he won the gong for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.

With a central plot, which tackles the issues of coming out and of transitioning, as well as the general complexities of human relationships, Rotterdam has struck a chord with London theatregoers. Jon explains, “It’s kind of a romcom in a way.”

The honest and yet comedic portrayal finds Alice, who is about to proclaim her sexuality to her parents just as her girlfriend Fiona, decides to express her desire to live as a man called Adrian.

“It’s about how Alice’s sense of her sexual identity is thrown into question by Adrian asserting his sense of his gender identity and how their relationship changes.”

It’s a real departure for Jon, who is best known for collaborating with Matt Tedford on the hit satirical comedy Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho.

The Rotterdam project was something he never believed would come to fruition, but a story he was nevertheless passionate about telling.

“When I was 18/19 a couple of my friends transitioned.” Jon explains, “There were just no trans narratives in film, TV and theatre and I just thought they should have their experiences reflected on stage as well.”

Since writing the play, the climate in theatre has changed, but there are still few works, which depict the struggle trans people go through in a comedic manner and Jon said of Rotterdam, “It tells an important story and I think everyone can get something out of it.”

The celebrated comedy writer hasn’t left his political satire behind however and his new show Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows premiered at Underbelly Festival earlier this month and will continue to entertain audiences on the South Bank over the summer season.

Rotterdam is playing at the Arts Theatre from Wednesday 21st June until Saturday 15th July 2017. 

Catch Margaret Thatcher Queen of Games Shows at the Underbelly Festival Southbank from 28 June – 2 July.