Handbagged
Closed 2h 0m
Handbagged
78

Handbagged NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(69 Reviews)
Positive
86%
Mixed
13%
Negative
1%
Members say
Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining, Absorbing

About the Show

Round House Theatre's comedy for 59E59 imagines what the world’s most powerful women talk about behind closed palace doors.

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Member Reviews (69)

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79
Relevant, Self-aware theater, Historical, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you're an Anglophile/history buff. MT's right-wing bent is countered by E2's humanity. Mostly well-acted; Hylton stands out. Often funny.

Don't see it if you're a conservative. Play freqly refers to being a play; interrupts flow. Still, charts rise of racism/anti-union/law & order/wealth gap..

80
Slow, Nostalgic, Great writing, Great acting

See it if Great acting and writing. Funny and irreverent. Very enjoyable​.

Don't see it if Some references can be very unfamiliar to younger and obscure to most American audiences.

Critic Reviews (30)

Theatermania
June 12th, 2019

“Buffini makes no attempt to mask the artificiality of the theater, and in doing so, she is free to unleash its full potential...Buffini's script teems with humor and wit, making us laugh as we learn. She's like Brecht, but fun...Rubasingham supports the script with an agile production that easily facilitates all of the required leaps of space and time...‘Handbagged’ is sympathetic to its subjects, but Buffini is clear-eyed about the larger implications of their tragic flaws."
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BroadwayWorld
June 14th, 2019

“The show has just the right balance of humor, drama, and intellectual discourse...By interfacing the young and older portrayals of Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher, the show provides a compelling depiction of the two powerful women...’Handbagged’ is a well crafted play that features fine performances and an intriguing perspective of British government and culture...The production is timely with its perspective of differing ideologies.”
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Lighting & Sound America
June 13th, 2019

"Whether the playwright is correct in her assessment of the Queen can never really be known, but she has done her homework and her arguments are both plausible and wittily expressed. Indhu Rubasingham's sleek, uncluttered production, from Maryland's Round House Theatre, benefits from actresses with advanced skills in the art of verbal knifing...If there is such thing as a catfight of ideas, 'Handbagged' is it, with both antagonists determined not to surrender an inch."
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Talkin' Broadway
June 12th, 2019

"The description barely begins to scratch the surface of the mix of satire, politics, and meta-theater of Buffini's splendidly performed and well-directed play...Americans are likely to be less knowledgeable of some of the specific political issues that come up...Sometimes things threaten to spin out of control as we dance between reality and the fanciful, but director Rubasingham and the polished performances of the cast members make for a delightful brew of comedic drama."
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New York Stage Review
June 12th, 2019

“In ‘Handbagged’, we get not one but four handbag-wielding forces: two named Margaret Thatcher and two named Queen Elizabeth...Buffini sets them onstage all at once, bolstering and buffeting and contradicting not only their opponent but their own alter ego in a dizzyingly funny manner...The success of this play depends, in great part, on the cast being able to deliver the intricately woven material...Much fun comes from the men in their jumble of roles.”
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New York Stage Review
June 12th, 2019

"A nice lesson in later 20th century British history...The quirky thing about ‘Handbagged’ is how its dramatic structure suggests a doubles tennis match in that two actors depict the Queen...As directed at a steady pace by Indhu Rubasingham, this Round House Theatre production is staged in a formal manner that matches the generally cool tone of Buffini’s text...The acting is commendable."
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Theater News Online
June 12th, 2019

“Buffini’s witty, elegant script...Buffini is free to mix glib metatheatrical jokes with more serious bits to create a giddy tapestry of fact and supposition...The four leading actresses are each quite wonderful....And while 'Handbagged is expertly staged by Indhu Rubasingham and often entertaining, it does start to wear after intermission...I’m not entirely sure that Buffini found the structural justification for a two-act structure."
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TheaterScene.net
June 22nd, 2019

"Although director Indhu Rubasingham's production is engrossing and entertaining, this talky and dense play may be difficult to follow for Americans who either do not know or have forgotten the details of Thatcher's 11 year career as the first woman British prime minister...However, with two actresses playing each of the women in both younger and older incarnation, it is quite remarkable how much they reflect the real life people they play."
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Theatre is Easy
June 12th, 2019

"In showing Thatcher’s steely determination, Buffini does not shy away from critiquing Thatcher’s policies, yet she creates an empathetic portrait of a woman who did not seem to have much empathy herself...The cast shine in their respective roles, if (only occasionally) some of their accents wobble toward American vowels...While uneven in the critique of its central characters, the play nevertheless offers provocative and heartfelt portrayals of two strong, iconic women."
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Theater Pizzazz
June 13th, 2019

"While dramatizing these decidedly private interactions, Buffini never strays egregiously from the plausible, but she also lets the audience know...that her imagination is definitely calling the shots...Rubasingham is clearly adept at handling Buffini’s playwriting gymnastics, creating order out of what might have only amounted to charming chaos. The talented cast immeasurably aids Rubasingham’s clarifying efforts, adding depth to Buffini’s loosely sketched characters."
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CurtainUp
June 13th, 2019

“Deliciously smart...The play is more imagination than fact. But Buffini's imagination is sharp, intermingling historical memories with wry humor; and...Rubasingham keeps the flow of political confab smart and lively. The brisk show divulges hints of resentment, grudging admiration, wit and whimsy and tinges of sarcasm...’Handbagged’ is an entertaining view of two fascinating, influential women, who, near the end, remain standing, still on the world scene, holding their handbags.”
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Front Row Center
June 14th, 2019

“A much-needed meta-comedy...Much needed because it serves to remind us that political gorgons aren’t all American made...What makes it cheeky and fun is that there is not even the pretense of a fourth wall...’Handbagged’ also offers us Americans a little refresher course in some of the less memorable incidents of that period...The casting is brilliant...I walked out of ‘Handbagged’ charmed and informed, feeling a deeper connection to both women.”
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Front Mezz Junkies
June 13th, 2019

"The smart, witty and sometimes chilly stroll through the cold air of Thatcher three-term years plays out wisely and elegantly. The two-acter drags a bit, especially after the British interval, as they stride forward into the future, correcting and squabbling amongst themselves, even with their own younger versions, about what was actually said or done in those private moments between the two."
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Exeunt Magazine
June 13th, 2019

"At my performance, a war of words ignited most passionately in the audience–to far more thrilling effect than anything happening on stage, sadly...Disruptive audiences don’t deserve our attention, not even this unusually rowdy Tuesday night crowd. Yet Buffini’s play is so rote, so totally unsurprising at every turn, that these bursts of chaos in the room felt like a relief...Buffini seems content to just hit on multiple points that other artists have already explored with more richness."
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New York Theater
June 14th, 2019

“Buffini’s inspired, inventive play...is as cheeky a comedy as its title suggests. It is also...a history play...But ‘Handbagged’ is more than just a comedy and history. Boosted by a well-directed production with spot-on performances, it is a sly, skilled takedown of Thatcher, achieved through an entertaining meta-theatrical exercise...The meta-theatrical bits are the funniest parts of this play. But they are also the most pointed.”
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C
June 12th, 2019

"Most importantly, Buffini not-so-subtly drives home the point that Thatcher's ultra-nationalist and arguably racist or classist policies, many supported by (or stolen from) her good pal Ronald Reagan, have led to the divisiveness so prevalent today in the UK and the US. Indeed, for audiences watching the play today, that old adage often rings in our ears even louder than any of Buffini's dialogue: 'Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.'"
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T
June 12th, 2019

"Smartly written, succinctly expressed, and satirically pointed, if referentially overstuffed, it's a welcome addition… If you have little or no knowledge of British politics and personalities during Thatcher's three consecutive terms, about all that will likely keep you awake is the razor-sharp direction and superb acting…[The actresses]…are convincing avatars of Elizabeth and Margaret, exceptionally good at conveying their characters' well-known physical and vocal mannerisms."
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Gotham Playgoer
June 12th, 2019

“The informative but playful script takes us through the Thatcher years...You might want to brush up your knowledge...For the most part, the playwright successfully blends entertainment and information. However, the play shows a few stretch marks from turning what was originally a one-act play into a longer work. The mostly American cast is fine...Rubasingham’s direction is assured. While I enjoyed the evening...Those who did not live through the Thatcher Era...may be bored.”
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
June 13th, 2019

“Witty, unusual and pointedly funny comedy...Buffini’s concept has Thatcher as her older and younger self, which provides the opportunity for internal thoughts. The author does the same with Queen Elizabeth...All four are superb...Although it takes a while getting into the spirit and thrust of ‘Handbagged’, which is a very odd play, soon Buffini demonstrates her gift of being able to mix wit, broad humor, political viewpoints and enjoyable acting into an entertaining topical stew.”
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C
June 13th, 2019

"An extraordinary evening of history, humor, philosophy, politics, economics, parody and satire...The evening is rollicking fun...As part of the Brits Off Broadway season at 59e59 Theaters, from start to finish, the production engages and delights with its humor and with the fine performances...'Handbagged' is a must-see for its performances, its clever send up of two iconic individuals, its ironies and the historical infusions of vital information with dollops of humor slipped in-between."
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scribicide
June 19th, 2019

"For Buffini, Thatcher is a scholarship kid ever-nursing the bruises sustained from her Oxbridge colleagues. For many of us, however, she was simply a monster, leaving a legacy of stubborn imperialism, privatization of public services, and weakened trade unions. Though critiques of Thatcher are lobbed through occasional interjections from minor characters, she insists on choosing 'what is spoken about here,' and for the most part, 'Handbagged' respects her control over the conversation."
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Off Off Online
June 13th, 2019

"Buffini’s concept is simple and elegant, with dialogue and fourth-wall-breaking narration seamlessly interwoven, but for a few meta-theatrical indulgences. And while it can’t ever really be known how accurate she is...Buffini has clearly done her research, and she has a beguiling, light touch on heavy affairs of state...Buffini does go more meta than necessary. The emphasis, though, is on two formidable personalities essayed by four formidable actors."
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I
June 16th, 2019

"'Handbagged' covers much of the same ground as films such as The Queen and The Iron Lady. However, unlike those stately movies, Ms. Buffini and Ms. Rubasingham have infused historic events with theatrical wit and a welcome lightness of touch, even if the play loses some momentum in the second act...The acting is top-notch and convincing all-around, particularly tricky given the play’s need for old/young versions of both dueling grand dames."
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Plays to See
June 15th, 2019

"A fast-paced, witty, chronological epic that charts the arcs of the characters and their bumpy relationship...Buffini cleverly employs two sets...of these headstrong female leaders...The actors beautifully draw out the play at lightning speed, with drama and wry humor...Buffini takes creative license by imagining their thoughts and private conversations, but succeeds in skillfully, creatively, showing two immensely powerful women."
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New York Arts
June 20th, 2019

“Those with a taste for recent British history and anyone who would like a look back at a non-PC world will enjoy this entertaining gabfest...The evening feels a little stretched, possibly because Buffini originally wrote ‘Handbagged’ as a one act play...This work produces lots of chuckles and a few big laughs...The four women actors are well-cast...Directed with economy...the play moves at a steady clip...This is a light work about 20th century British history inhabited at a fast, talky pace.”
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The Washington Post
February 6th, 2018
For a previous production

“Fast-paced..Comically self-aware...Buffini’s breezy script is laced with crosstalk, and it’s booby-trapped with rebellion...Buffini doesn’t seem to like Thatcher, but she gets how her muscular magnetism attracted followers hungry for a newly great Britain. The script has a prismatic quality; the light of history glints differently depending on who’s telling it. Buffini has fun shifting the attention around, and Rubasingham’s production is so sure-footed that the whole show shines.”
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BroadwayWorld
February 11th, 2018
For a previous production

“While Act One of Buffini's play tends to wander into tedious Wikipedia or history textbook land...Rubasingham’s exceptionally strong cast proves capable of keeping the audience engaged throughout. Lynskey...delivers one of the best performances I've seen this season...Thanks to sublime performances, it's much easier to turn a mostly blind eye to Buffini's attempt to educate her audience on the events on the day in a less than theatrical way...It's really all about the acting.”
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DC Theatre Scene
February 7th, 2018
For a previous production

“Forget everything you have assumed about ‘Handbagged’...It is different, and better...Buffini has elected to turn this high-stakes drama into a comedy — and more than that, a meta-comedy, in which the fourth wall is not only breached but burned to the ground...It would be easy for such arch stuff to become tiresome after a while. The remedy is not merely good acting - but direction which makes the production more like a magic act than a play...It is simply smashing.”
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DC Metro Theater Arts
February 7th, 2018
For a previous production

“With a high-spirited, devil-may-care, comic touch by...Rubasingham...the Round House production of ‘Handbagged’ is an enjoyable evening...’Handbagged’ is a buoyant, fun evening out with some opinionated British history lessons. For those with a love for the Queen, especially as she enters the final stretch of her reign, take it in for its fine acting and its high comedy. As for any anti-Monarchists...or strong Tories, you might want to stay home. You will only get angry.”
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Artes Magazine
March 11th, 2018
For a previous production

“The title of Moira Buffini’s play says it all: ‘Handbagged’ is about women, imagery, and the iconic accessory that symbolizes their status and power...’Handbagged’ focuses on the interaction of two late-20th century women who played major roles on the international stage...’Handbagged’ never reveals the inner secrets of the bags themselves, but uses this accessory common to both women as a way to reveal how their personalities shaped a formative decade in British and world history.”
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