Handbagged is a play by the British playwright Moira Buffini, examining the relationship between Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister from 1979 to 1990. It originated in 2010 as a one act play,[1] with the younger Thatcher played by Claire Cox and the elder by Stella Gonet, as part of the Tricycle Theatre's Women, Power and Politics festival. The title derives from the verb coined[2] early in Margaret Thatcher’s term to evoke the effects emanating from her personal handbag as it became an emphatic political prop and visible symbol of her power.

Conversion to full-length productionEdit

In 2013, Buffini expanded the play into one of full length. Both Buffini and Indhu Rubasingham, the artistic director at the Tricycle, were nervous about the idea of an extended version, because at the time, another play covering the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Thatcher - Peter Morgan's The Audience - was about to open. However, Rubasingham was confident that the two plays would be different enough for there not to be a problem.[1]

The extended version premiered in October 2013 at the Tricycle,[3] - Gonet reprised her role as the elder Thatcher, with the younger version played by Fenella Woolgar and the elder and younger versions of Elizabeth II played by Marion Bailey and Clare Holman respectively. The play received positive reviews, with one commentator describing it as 'very funny...if occasionally overstretched', and that the play had a 'buoyant, meta-theatrical playfulness' due to its repeated breaking of the fourth wall.[3]

In April 2014 the play transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre in London's West End, due to run until August 2014.[4] The cast of this production was:[1]

The play toured the UK from September to December 2015 starring Susie Blake and Kate Fahy, with the younger queen portrayed by Emma Handy. It visited Canterbury, Salford, Guildford, Oxford, Coventry, Cambridge, Nottingham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Edinburgh, Norwich, Cheltenham,[5][6] Richmond, Cambridge[7] and Bath.[8][9]


  1. ^ a b c 'Handbagged' programme. Vaudeville Theatre.
  2. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/handbag
  3. ^ a b Billington, Michael (2 October 2013). "Handbagged – review". Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  4. ^ Mitford, Oliver (9 May 2014). "Handbagged Review". Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  5. ^ "The arts diary: Handbagged, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham" Archived 2015-11-22 at the Wayback Machine. Gloucestershire Echo November 17, 2015
  6. ^ "Queen at 90: How Elizabeth II is portrayed on stage and screen". By Lauren Turner BBC News, 21 April 2016
  7. ^ "Review: Handbagged at Cambridge Arts Theatre"[permanent dead link]. Cambridge News, By LydiaFallon. October 13, 2015
  8. ^ "Handbagged review: Susie Blake and Emma Handy star in the comedy at the Theatre Royal". ChronicleLive Oct 27, 2015
  9. ^ "Handbagged review at Theatre Royal, Bath" Archived 2015-12-14 at the Wayback Machine. Bath Chronicle, December 01,