Sandy Campbell (left) and Linda Libby in "Handbagged." Photo courtesy of Moxie Theatre
If Moira Buffini’s “Handbagged” were a better play, it might have provided tour-de-force opportunities for two of San Diego’s most gifted leading ladies: Sandy Campbell, who portrays Queen Elizabeth II, and Linda Libby, who plays Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. These two make the most out of their moments in Moxie Theatre’s production of Buffini’s historical comedy. But because of the structure of the 2013 work, they’re obliged to take a back seat to the two women portraying younger versions of the queen and “Mags”: Debra Wanger (measured) and Lisel Gorell-Getz (strident), respectively. The potential for provocative confrontations between the two latter-day British icons is also mostly lost in the play’s fact- and gossip-filled recounting of the history in the UK during the Thatcher years in power.
All four actresses give their best, nonetheless, and the device of having two ensemble actors, Max Macke and Durwood Murray, playing a raft of other characters (Ronald Reagan, Dennis Thatcher, Neil Kinnock, et al) contributes to “Handbagged” having many animated exchanges onstage. In any event, it’s a treat for anglophiles. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 11/6/19.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.