Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Director Indhu Rubasingham, who also directed the original British production, plays up the theatricality of Buffini's script. In the playwright's concept, the queen (Jennifer Mendenhall), now 91 years old, and the Iron Lady (Kate Fahy), who died in 2013, have come together on the stage of this theater to recount the agreements and battles of several decades earlier. Adding a second layer is the presence of the two women's younger selves (Beth Hylton and Susan Lynskey respectively), who act out some of the same stories, sometimes with notable differences in the way they tell them. The four actresses give thoughtful performances individually, as two pairs, and as an ensemble.
Part of the drama comes from the contrasting attitudes of the two women, one who was born to reign, the other who made her own waydetermined that a woman could do anything she wanted to but disparaging the organized women's movement. Despite her middle-class upbringing, Thatcher considers herself the queen's peer in every way. For her part, Elizabeth appreciates that Thatcher earned an Oxford degree in chemistry and later a law degree, while her own education came from her governess and tutors.
Thatcher served from 1979 to 1990, a time of upheaval and uncertainty about the role of government in the United Kingdom. Elizabeth sees people as the motivating force of society, while Thatcher considers society a framework in which the population fits. The script goes into detail about British history of the period, including the Irish Republican Army attack that killed the queen's cousin, Lord Mountbatten; the war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands; the year-long coal miners' strike; and the rise of tabloid journalism in the 1980s.
Actors Cody LeRoy Wilson and John Lescault play all the supporting roles: Lescault's characterizations include Thatcher's doting husband Denis, Ronald Reagan, and Rupert Murdoch, while Wilson's roles include a painfully thin Nancy Reagan in a red suit. (Richard Kent, who designed the nonrepresentational set that suggests a three-dimensional Union Jack, also designed the witty costumes.)
Round House Theatre