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Class Discussion of “Handbagged” and Performance of “Best of Enemies.”

Today we met for an afternoon class in which Charlotte facilitated a discussion of Handbagged, a one act play by Moira Buffini, which explores the role of a constitutional monarchy in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. The play centers around fictional conversations between a young and old Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II as the characters reflect upon the meaning and purpose of the policies enacted by Margaret Thatcher during her time in office. 

Later the same evening, we took the tube to Leicester Square to see a performance of James Graham's play, Best of Enemies. The play explores the politics of identity and the evolution of a political climate in which the lines between fact and opinion have become increasingly blurred. The play is set in 1968 and focuses on a series of debates that took place between William Buckley and Gore Vidal in the US. The heated debates between the two central characters boil to a climax when Vidal calls Buckley a "Crypto Nazi" and Buckley retaliates by calling Vidal a "Queer." The debates and hurling of insults was a spectacle enjoyed by both the viewing public and the self-absorbed Buckley and Vidal. The play suggests that this series of debates may have contributed to the rise of the importance of opinion vs. fact in politics. 

Group posing for photo on street outside theater

Outside the Noel Coward Theater, Leicester Square, for a performance of Best of Enemies.

Audience view of stage set, which features images on multiple video screens and staircase leading up the right-hand side.

The stage set for The Best of Enemies featured a number of interlocking screens that were used to contextualize the action.  

Students seated in two rows of theater seats, smiling for camera

Inside the Noel Coward Theater prior to the production of The Best of Enemies.

3 students outside theater posing for a photo.

Quinn, Marion, and Helen outside the Noel Coward Theater, Leister Square

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