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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thatcher's Children/Beats, theatre review

Gary Gardiner's Thatcher's Children
Published in the Guardian
Arches Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

FOR those of us who fought in the Thatcher wars, there's a worry the younger generation won't appreciate what was at stake. But if this inspirational double bill by the latest winners of the Arches' Platform 18 directors' award is any measure of the times, our political future is in safe hands.

In Thatcher's Children, Gary Gardiner demonstrates a clean grasp of the bullying, brutish nature of Thatcherite politics, and traces a direct line to the riots, financial crisis and alienation of today. In the video collage that accompanies his dryly satirical show, he has the wit to play with our historical uncertainty by blurring the distinction between the ex-PM and Meryl Streep. We know one of them sang The Winner Takes It All, but it's hard to remember which.

Performed by a cast of four in Thatcher masks and punkish DMs, this is a postmodern cabaret that pays ironic homage to a world view that has shaped the private and public lives of a generation. If we are all Thatcher's children, it seems to say, then small wonder we are such a dysfunctional family.

Better still is Kieran Hurley's Beats, a tremendous piece of storytelling that takes us back to 1994, when the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act outlawed any public gathering characterised by "the emission of a succession of repetitive beats". As DJ Johnny Whoop and live VJ Jamie Wardrop create an authentic club atmosphere, Hurley tells the tale of a 15-year-old at his first illegal rave, while parents, politicians and police fret about his future.

It's a simple story made purposeful by Hurley's understanding of the wider political context. Without flattering one side or the other, he juxtaposes neurotic forces of order and loved-up fields of dancers, giving the lie to the idea that there's no such thing as society.
© Mark Fisher, 2012 (pic: Niall Walker)
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