A NEW play takes a walk through the corridors of power to see behind closed doors during the weekly meetings between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher.

Handbagged is a comedy written by Moira Buffini and the production, which is in the Main House at Salisbury Playhouse from April 4, is directed by Jo Newman.

“It is such a cracking play to work on and we’re having a lot of fun making it,” says Jo.“It is the imagined weekly audiences between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher throughout the period of Thatcher’s time in office from 1979 to 1990.

“It is kind of an extraordinary story because at that time the two most powerful women in the world and we see them behind the scenes and we get a glimpse into the corridors of power. There is a real fascination with those stories at the moment. We’ve seen The Favourite, The Crown and The Queen. It feels like there is a desire to have a glimpse into those moments of history and what really happened.”

Handbagged is a co-production between Wiltshire Creative, Oldham Coliseum and York Theatre Royal.

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Jo adds: “What is fantastic about Handbagged is the way that it tells a story is very inventive and very playful. It is very interesting, it captures some very important moments of our political history but at the same time it is very funny and we see what might have happened.”

Jo says the show is “very poignant” and as well as being a “fun night out” for audiences that will also “make them think” and “ask questions”.

“It is an amazing script. What feels very important about staging it now is that some of the politics that the play explores is incredibly timely. We are still living through some of those political decisions that were made in the 80s and there are still conversations happening in our parliament, conversations about Europe and state support, immigration, the poverty gap, all of those massive subjects,” explains Jo.

“It is so multi-faceted and it does not take sides. It is an even handed portrayal and it is a comedy so you can laugh about it but it makes you think because it is totally objective and not polemic. At a time where the way stories are told and the way our political narratives are told everything is so divisive and actually this play is absolutely not. It unites all opinions in a way and you can choose what you think about it.”

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Susan Penhaligon plays The Queen with Sarah Crowden as Margaret Thatcher. The cast is completed by Caroline Harker, Eve Matheson, Jahvel Hall and Andy Secombe.

Jo says: “We’re making sure we are grounded authenticity but it is also really important to say that there are a lot of things that are imagined so we’ve also got the freedom to play. No-one knows what happened other than the Queen herself.We no longer have Margaret Thatcher so there is literally one person on earth that knows what was said at these meetings.”

Summing up the show, she adds: “It’s quite biting, very funny but also thoughtful. There is something in it for everyone.”

For tickets go to wiltshirecreative.co.uk or call 01722 320 333.