Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Matron’s departed with her coterie but will the next political figure through the revolving door that is Number Ten be able to steer the ship away from the Brexit rocks?
David Cameron is now safely tucked away in his luxury garden shed but even he cannot have imagined that the process he kicked off four years ago in a bid to reconcile the fighting factions in his Tory party would still be with us.
It was all supposed to be done and dusted inside two years; quick referendum, overwhelming vote to remain, leave campaigners swiftly despatched to political obscurity and Dave proceeds to rule the roost until ready to retire with a peerage and some well-paid, non-executive directorships from his city chums.
But the problem with letting ordinary people vote in a referendum is that they will not necessarily return the result you were looking for. And so Dave’s premiership came to a sticky end, leaving Matron to come in and try and sort out the mess before the rapidly approaching deadline of March next year.
But she’s now created such a stink of her own that enough MPs have written a little note to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee and one Adam Masters now finds himself thrust, reluctantly of course, into the maelstrom that is Brexit.
Despite starting with a clean sweep of the major offices of state, Masters quickly finds he has a cabinet with more divisions than ministers. And was it really such a good idea to fill the key appointments of Secretary for International Trade and Brexit Secretary with two protagonists who create instant conflagration when within the same four walls?
If you’re having difficulty deciding how much of the above is fact and how much has been drawn from the plotline of Brexit, the latest play to flow from the pens of Robert Khan and his co-author Tom Salinsky, then you are not alone. But that’s the problem for writers of political satire these days – real life politicians and political events are often funnier, whackier and more convoluted than anything that could be sensibly incorporated into a play that would be believable to the paying public.
However, Khan and Salinsky do an admirable job in keeping the plot credible with a script that contains a veritable waterfall of one-liners that are memorable, pithy and horribly close to reality – Masters’ key “policy of frenetic inertia” sounds very akin to that currently being pursued by the real-life incumbent of Number Ten.
Yet with a big-star cast (and admission prices to match) it was surprising to see so many stumbles over lines which resulted in a few script loops and a few gags going AWOL, hinting that the piece perhaps remains a bit of a work-in-progress. But the set is impressive – a vast spread of expensive looking wood panelling, magisterial desk for the PM and a goodly smattering of luxurious looking accessories. Lighting is effective and there’s some clever use of sound including a very good impression of the House of Commons during the bear-pit that is the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions.
This show will appeal to anyone with an interest in how the real Brexit might turn out and lovers of the TV series Yes, Prime Minister may recognise what may be unintentional plot and denouement derivatives of that recent successful West End stage play. That’s no bad thing, though – there are, after all, only so many outcomes that are believable in politics.