Sisters team up for Handbagged at the New Vic

Published: 30 August 2019
Reporter: Steve Orme

Director Fiona Buffini during rehearsals for Handbagged Credit: Andrew Billington

Two sisters are to work together for the first time in 17 years to bring Olivier Award-winning play Handbagged to the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Fiona Buffini will direct sister Moira’s play about what might have happened during regular meetings between Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher. It will be the first time the sisters have collaborated since Dinner which transferred from the National Theatre to Wyndham’s in the West End. In April 2020, they will join up for the National Theatre production of Moira’s new play Manor.

Handbagged is said to be “sharply funny, packed with satirical humour and highly entertaining”. It features a host of characters including Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Geoffrey Howe and Denis Thatcher.

Fiona Buffini returns to the New Vic for the first time since 2012 when she directed The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd by D H Lawrence. From 2013 to 2018, she was associate director of Nottingham Playhouse.

She said, “this is the first time to my knowledge that the play's been performed in-the-round. This intimacy really suits the play; it's as if we're eavesdropping on private meetings. All the characters talk to the audience which works so well at the Vic. It's also about a time in our history of huge upheaval and change, which really divided the nation.”

The cast features Zoe Aldrich as Mags, Louise Bangay as Q, Melissa Collier as Liz, Ashley Gerlach as Actor 1, Jan Goodman as T and Paul Mundell as Actor 2.

The production is designed by Olivia Du Monceau, with lighting by Daniella Beattie, sound by James Earls-Davis and vocals by Judith McSpadden.

Handbagged will run at the New Vic Theatre from Friday 6 until Saturday 28 September. Press night will be Tuesday 10 September.