A history lesson with outstanding features.
Drama based on the rise and fall of Thatcher has been in production ever since the year she lost power. By the very nature, ‘Thatch- iopic,’ as coined by my theatre colleague, can be bitty and could potentially reduce long-standing working relationships and battles to single scenes or moments.
Dead Sheep is a focused theatre piece in which the relationship between Margaret Thatcher (Steve Nallon), Geoffrey Howe (Paul Bradley, best known for playing Elliot Hope in Casualty), and his wife, Elspeth Howe (Carol Royle) take centre-stage. The triangle, where Howe finds himself in the middle of, is a tug-o-war that eviscerates Howe and forces him to choose one side. Torn between political loyalty and spouse angst, Bradley delivers a formidable and emotionally dynamic performance that was purposely understated to enhance the subtlety of the personality.
The highlight and perhaps selling point was casting Margaret Thatcher as a man.
Steven Nallon did an astounding job playing her, it was as if the Iron Lady herself was present before us with the line delivery as well as the movement, stunned and entertained the audience throughout. A couple of belly laughs were had.
Three actors played narrators (Graham Seed, Christopher Villiers and John Wark) as well as politicians/minister in her cabinet. This entertained the spectators, but at times detracted from the action. Sometimes we just wanted to be shown the story as opposed to being told beforehand. It ruined the drama for us, in part.
Overall, a successful and refreshing take on the ‘iron’ age of British politics, and as Jonathan Maitland (Writer) said: “But there is one corner the tractors seem to have missed.” What it was like for Geoffrey Howe at the right side of the force not to be reckoned with.