INTERVIEW: Thatcher-Rite’s Jack Boal

Ahead of the Sheffield Theatres debut of Thatcher-Rite, we spoke to its creator and performer, Jack Boal, to find out more about the interactive show taking a unique approach to exploring the personal and political legacy of Margaret Thatcher…

Hi Jack. Your one-person show has been described as ‘Part political performance art, part slapstick drag show,’ how would you describe Thatcher-rite?

I would describe Thatcher-Rite as an interactive performance that directly asks the audience how they think the legacy of Margaret Thatcher has impacted the country. Mixed in with lip-sync, clown and autobiographical elements to give it that contemporary performance flavour. I enjoy that it can be many things; a drag-show, an interactive show, a clown show.

What inspired you to create the show?

I’m from Finchley in North London where Mrs. Thatcher was the MP, so the inspiration came from trying to understand the area I grew up in – it’s very green, safe and boasts good schools but has little to no arts and culture or active nightlife. This is something really important to me and I had to leave my home area to find the life I wanted. I thought exploring Mrs. Thatcher would be an interesting way to talk about this – and more widely how her legacy is felt across the country.

Jack Boal in Thatcher-rite

How did the unusual structure and format of the show evolve?

I always had an image in my head of Mrs. Thatcher hosting a tea party in the afterlife. I love hearing from the audience and the surprises they offer when called on and so I wanted to merge those two things together; political debate over tea and biscuits. I am primarily interested in giving a voice to the audience and asking questions where conflict can occur in a fun and enjoyable space.

There’s a fair amount of audience participation, tell us about some of the more notable audience cameos…

Yes there is and that’s where the joy and fun of the show is at. A memorable audience member was someone in Nottingham who immediately was up for the fight and came in ready for an argument. When that happens, all I need to do is keep the conversation going and find the space to play. So, don’t hold back, I can take it!

How has the show been received by audiences?

Having performed the show in London, Nottingham, and Lincoln so far, every iteration has been different with new perspectives and observations that give the show its liveness. Nottingham was much younger and ready to argue it out. Lincoln was more reserved but with more personal testimonies and London was at my home venue, where there was a greater interest in the Jack persona that features in the show.

Jack Boal in Thatcher-rite

What are your feelings about today’s political climate, and does this show attempt to bridge the gap between Thatcher-era policy and the current political landscape?

It’s pretty uninspiring… The leadership of the main political parties clearly haven’t generated a great level of turnout in the recent local elections. The show attempts to showcase the qualities of leadership that are devoid from our current crop but also remind us of the root causes for our housing crisis, our crisis in English identity, Brexit and more. Mrs. Thatcher changed the fabric of our economy and society and there has been no serious offer of an alternative since. We won’t be getting one in the next general election and more of the same won’t fix these problems – I don’t think we can live with kicking the can down the road much longer.

Thatcher-Rite is touring into June, what’s next for you and where else can we catch you?

This is the final stop and the final ever show of Thatcher-Rite so it’ll be onto new projects and pastures. My next show will explore the state of care in England, inspired by my grandmother who died from dementia and titled in her name, Catherine. This will be a more traditional performance so no audience participation this time! In August, you can catch me at the Edinburgh Fringe hosting my cabaret idiots… GAY idiots – a variety night of yesteryear with drag, stand-up and clown. It’s going to be a blast. That’s on the 19th,  20th & 21st of August.

Thatcher-Rite heads to Sheffield Theatre’s Playhouse on Saturday, 8th June with tickets available here. Find out more via Jack’s socials and website.

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