The Iron Lady takes centre stage once again

A new generation of writers is tackling the Thatcher legacy

"As a portrait of Thatcherism... it feels about as reliable as an MP's expenses claim." The Independent's Anthony Quinn's verdict on The Iron Lady summed up the general sense of antipathy towards a film that hardly brushed Margaret Thatcher's seismic political legacy. Where film had its chance to define her and failed, it falls to a new generation of young theatre-makers to assess the legacy of a woman whose rule they weren't old enough to influence with their vote.

This year's Platform 18 award, an annual scheme run by Glasgow's Arches that allows two emergent theatre-makers to develop a show to production, has this year settled upon a pair of works that touch upon Thatcher's influence. "We've openly spoken about it as being an antidote to The Iron Lady," says Gary Gardiner, 32, writer, director and one of four performers in Thatcher's Children. "While the film had this vulnerable old woman looking back at her life and left us thinking 'ah well, she wasn't so bad', Thatcher's Children tries to get into the politics as something that's still alive."

Described as a combination of choreography, music, text and performance, Thatcher's Children will see the theatre arranged as if it were the House of Commons, with four present-day advocates of her neo-liberal ideals attempting to persuade us of them in sometimes ironic fashion. "It's very much about the idea that we're all Thatcher's Children," says Gardiner. "She radically reformed British politics to the point that we can't go backwards. The driver for public policy being economics is ingrained into our culture now.

"There's a quote, 'our society is now filled with the words of enterprise and innovation, but never has our society been more homogenous'. The real nub of this performance hangs on that principle. How society is obsessed by the idea of innovation, of being self-reliant and responsible, that everybody has the power to get themselves out of trouble and you shouldn't expect anyone else to do it for you. Thatcherism is a prop for us to explore that."

The idea of Thatcher as patriarch, says Gardiner, is also examined. "There are many people who appreciate somebody who makes absolute decisions," he says.

The other show, Kieran Hurley's BEATS, is about the post-Thatcher free party movement, a topic that it manages to link to the occupation of Millbank Tower last year. "Rave culture went beyond an individualistic, competitive, capitalist view of the world, that ideological attack on a world which might have room for things like solidarity or togetherness," says Hurley, 26. "I'm completely unable to divorce the free party movement from the context of post-Thatcher Britain, from the desire of an entire generation of young people to find a means, even via chemical assistance, of engendering some kind of collective empathy."

What makes the Thatcherite ideal so worthy of dramatic examination, suggests Gardiner, is not just the fact it's shaped every government since 1990, but that it's pervaded the lives of everyone, regardless of political persuasion. "I'm a freelance artist," he says, "so I have to present myself to the world as being an entrepreneur. I grew up in London in a very working-class family, and my dad benefited directly from the right-to-buy. The house he'd been renting his whole life is now worth quarter of a million pounds, so where do I sit within Thatcher's legacy? Am I an example of social enterprise rather than simply enterprise? I'm fully aware of the contradictions."

'Thatcher's Children' and 'BEATS', Arches, Glasgow (0141 565 1000) 18 to 22 April; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh (0131 228 1404) 25 to 28 April

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project