North of Watford

The Palace of Varieties, Derby Theatre

North of Watford client Lisa Allen stars as Margaret Thatcher in The Palace of Varieties at Derby Theatre, which charts the life of Dennis Skinner – ex-miner and fifty years a socialist MP. His infamous belligerence and acerbic wit in the House of Commons earned him the nickname ‘The Beast of Bolsover’. But beneath the hard-line political image is a man with a passion for nature and a soul who loves to sing.

The show is driven by politics and a-cappella, in a fast-moving, entertaining night out down the miners’ welfare.

Written by Kevin Fegan and directed by Jimmy Fairhurst, The Palace of Varieties runs from Saturday 22 January 2022 to Saturday 5 February 2022.


Playwright Kevin Fegan’s rationale is Skinner’s comparison of the Palace of Westminster to a music hall variety venue, and this makes surprising sense. The songs are just one of the imaginative ways in which Fegan and director Jimmy Fairhurst manage historical exposition. The 1980s are staged as a soap opera cart race between Gareth Williams’ Skinner and Lisa Allen’s Thatcher. More


Parliament currently seems more pantomime than politics, so there’s no denying the relevance of this new piece charting the life and times of former Labour MP Dennis Skinner. Gareth Williams beautifully embodies the ‘Marmite MP’ and receives excellent support from Lisa Allen and Jack Brown, who between them skilfully take on all other characters – from prime ministers to selfie-obsessed teens. More


Lisa Allen and Jack Brown play mutiple characters that give heart and humour to Skinner’s biographical elements. They perform, along with Williams, a series of fast-moving scenes and deliver cleverly constructed dialogue, with a-cappella interspersing. A fabulous show! More