Matthew Steeples reviews ‘Bloody Difficult Women’ – a play about Brexit, Theresa May, Gina Miller and struggle and sacrifice– and finds it relevant as we face the ongoing fallout from Britain’s decision to leave the EU and as Putin’s tanks roll into Ukraine
Bloody Difficult Women by former Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail columnist Tim Walker was, like so many things, inevitably delayed by coronavirus. In spite of having meant to have been brought to the stage in early 2020, it now comes at the right time as Russian intervention in Brexit is once again revisited as the tyrant Putin sends tanks into Ukraine and Britain continues to face the consequences of what Vote Leave ‘achieved’ in 2016.
Starring Jessica Turner – Midsomer Murders, Heartbeat – and Amara Karan – The Bill, The Darjeeling Limited – as the two “bloody difficult women,” this is not only a story of the implications of the 2016 referendum, but also one of the uphill struggle of the financier turned crusading campaigner Gina Miller and the then Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May.
Inspired by his friendship with Miller and his having witnessed her “David and Goliath type battles with the governments of Theresa May and later Boris Johnson,” Walker commented: “I think she showed remarkable courage and I think it was a story that needed to be told.”
Going further, The New European columnist added:
“I hope, above all things, it will simply make people think and I also want them to understand that it was fundamentally a human drama and that everybody involved with that, to an extent, made sacrifices – and that I’d argue that Mrs Miller made the biggest sacrifice because it was her against the full might of the establishment, the full might of the state.”
“Nobody is completely bad, nobody is completely good and that I think is what the play gets across in very realistic and I think humane terms. I think the drama behind the play is almost as great actually as the drama in the play.”
“I think the story of May and Miller is a microcosm of what is happening in our country. Two perfectly normal women having a fight in the courts when in any other circumstances, they would be friends. I think that the message of the play is that we need to reunite.”
Speaking of the performance in his typically direct fashion, former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow remarked: “It was an outstanding performance of an outstanding story by some fascinating characters… A captivating representation of historically important historic events” whilst the broadcaster and Dead Sheep playwright Jonathan Maitland added: “I thought it was incredibly brave and hugely funny in parts.”
A fictional civil servant Sir Hugh Rosen is played by the brilliantly witty Graham Seed – The Archers, The Pargetter Triptych. He is pitted against Paul Dacre, played by Andrew Woodall – Kavanagh QC, Des – and in the course of the rambunctious then editor of the Daily Mail’s cursing rants, the power of the media versus the politicos is played out. Just as occurred in 2016, the might of that paper is portrayed and now as we face war in Europe and the influence of oligarchs such as Evening Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev comes back to the fore, it is a reminder that there is once again a need for yet more bloody difficult women and perhaps some less bloody difficult men.
Ninety minutes long and without an interval, the play runs at Riverside Studios, 101 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, London, W6 9BN until the 26th March with matinees and evening performances also. Tickets are priced at £35 per person.
Pictured top – Edmund Kingsley as Alan Miller with the ‘Daily Mail’s’ notorious ‘Enemies of The People’ headline behind him; Jessica Turner as Theresa May and Amara Karan as Gina Miller.