Maggie’s End: Not For Burning?

MOST people remember the day she was driven away from Downing Street for the last time with tears in her eyes.
They forget just what a huge shock it was when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher resigned.
The decision was so unexpected that there were only 14 journalists standing outside No 10 at the time.
One of them was me.
I can still picture her press officer walking out of the front door of No 10, holding a pile of A4 paper.
Striding towards us to hand out a Press Notice with a quote from Mrs Thatcher announcing her decision to step down.
It took a few seconds for the words to sink in.
Then all hell broke loose as we scrambled to convey the news to the outside world.

This, remember, in the days before 24-hour rolling news, the BlackBerry, iPhone, email or, would you believe it, Twitter.
That Press Notice – dated 22 November 1990 – is now framed in my office.
Complete with my added pen scrawl “9.34am” and “14”.
Having covered the miners’ strike in the 1980s, I knew just what this moment would mean to people living real lives far away from the Westminster bubble.
Also having had my car stopped and searched by police on a drive back to London from Newcastle during the strike.
It appears they were looking for evidence of flying pickets.
In May 1997 I made sure I was stood in exactly the same spot opposite No 10 to see Tony Blair enter as prime minister for the first time after his general election victory.
As with all historic events, the TV pictures only tell part of the story.
Downing Street was electrified with hope, optimism and excitement.
Which brings me to the play I saw last night at The Shaw Theatre in London.
Maggie’s End by Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood is being staged to mark the 25th anniversary of the miners’ strike.
You could say this black comedy is controversial, bearing in mind it’s set in 2010, just after the death of Margaret Thatcher.
With a Labour government planning a State Funeral for the woman who cannot be cremated as she is “not for burning”.
Fans of Mrs T will be horrified and offended by almost all of it.
Others – like last night’s audience – will cheer this tale of how we have slept walked into a state of 21st century national dementia.
Where young people have no real idea who Margaret Thatcher was, let alone know the story of the miners’ strike.
And think having fire in their belly means a good curry on a Friday night.
Mark Wingett and Melanie Hill team up once again, having been husband and wife in The Bill.
Mark plays washed up political lecturer and former jailed militant Leon Thomas while Melanie is equally superb as his fiery second wife Suzy.
Johanne Murdock is Leon’s daughter Rosa, who wanted to be a vet but grew up to be a New Labour MP.
She is Parliamentary Private Secretary and mistress to Home Secretary Neil Callaghan, played by ex-EastEnders and The Bill actor Russell Floyd.
Whatever your political views, this is an evening of pure passion which examines the legacy of the Thatcher and Blair years.
While also looking at the impact on one north east family.
If nothing else, it will make you think – and open up a debate.
The Shaw Theatre is located just a short walk from both Euston and St Pancras stations.
At the latter you’ll find Europe’s longest champagne bar, where a single glass of bubbly costs anything between £7.50 and £33.50.
Which must be of great comfort to the communities left devastated by pit closures after the miners’ strike ended in defeat.
Maggie’s End is on in London until April 18 but may be coming to a venue near you soon.
First performed at Durham’s Gala Theatre in October 2007, the reviews in the north were sometimes glowing.
In contrast to a few of those from London reviewers who may never have ventured further than the M25.
Surely any stage production described by the Telegraph as “obnoxious” has to be worth a look?
The Shaw Theatre: Maggie’s End
Maggie’s End Background
St Pancras Champagne Bar
London Evening Standard
The Guardian
The Telegraph
The Times
Newcastle Evening Chronicle


Filed under News

2 responses to “Maggie’s End: Not For Burning?

  1. Trevor Wood

    Thanks for the kind words about Maggie’s End – it’s like Suzy says in the play “they don’t like passion, they don’t understand it.” She’s talking about New Labour MPs but could easily be talking about some of the London critics!

  2. Maria

    Gosh Ian –
    You have seen history in the making. That must have been some day!
    tell them to bring the play to Ireland,It would go down a treat here !
    I think it would be prudent to ask does the telegraph like anyone or anything.

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