Matt Tedford’s latest Thatcher show – Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows – is a glitzy night out, despite the comedy being somewhat tired.
It is clear from the sheer number of people squeezed into Assembly’s Picolo tent the splash Matt Tedford has made at previous fringes as the formidable Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This year, he returns with Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows, a participatory drag offering that sees audience members competing in challenges to win their ‘job seekers allowance’. These involve satirical takes on game show classics such as spinning the ‘Wheel of Misfortune’ and destroying the NHS (symbolised with a pile of jenga blocks). Tedford is supported brilliantly by two assistants ‘Strong’ and ‘Stable’, who make numerous cameos as game show legends including Cilla Black, Bruce Forsyth and political figures like Jeremy Corbyn.
Tedford has the crowd in the palm of his hand as he riles them up in panto dame fashion and puts them down with a sharp tounge and witty asides. Backed by a glittering set and impressive tech, Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows is a flashy show that undoubtedly thrills the late night audience. Tabloid newspapers are mocked with Fleetwood Mac’s Little Lies and ‘milk snatcher’ jokes are a plenty. The show covers a broad mix of politics with the baby boomers of the audience howling at comparisons made between Theresa May and Thatcher, and the younger audience members clapping along enthusiastically to the appearance of Jeremy Crobyn as Jesus.
However, there are places where, even for a light entertainment caberet, the political satire is lacking in subtlety. Slightly too many of the jokes seem unorigional and over used; Thatcher and Angela Merkle competitively singing ‘Anything You Can Do’ from Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun, for example, is a gag that is overly long and gets tired quickly.
Despite this, Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows still manages to be highly entertaining – and Tedford’s performance is as captivating as his perfectly coiffed wig. Have a few beers and you’ll find yourself singing along to 80’s classics and shouting the catchphases of game shows gone by with gusto.