Right now the news sounds more depressing than the noise you hear when your tent collapses under torrential rain on the second night of a festival. Everyone’s on the verge of bankruptcy, in recession and failing to get jobs. Bailouts are now so common Spain even asked for the diet version (NEW Bailout Light – same great bailout flavour, but half the salaries). With Malcolm Tucker on the backbenches while Armando Iannucci focuses on the States, we’re in desparate need of some political comedy to save us from our own misery.
Perfect timing then, for the new production of Yes, Prime Minister, currently showing in the shadow of parliament at Trafalgar Studios. I’ll admit now that I’ve never seen either of the TV shows that led to this production, but luckily that hardly mattered. The play started brightly and kept up a slew of hilarious one-liners throughout.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the set up, Jim Hacker is the Prime Minister of Great Britain. In his mission to forward the position of the country (or, just as likely, himself), he is aided and opposed by a host of characters. Principle of these is Sir Humphrey, who frequently plots to maintain power over the PM. The dialogue between the two zings along, with some of Sir Humphreys attempts to cover the truth hidden in his lengthy sentences layered with adjectives particularly shining.
The plot of the show could hardly be more relevant. With the European economy as it is. a small oil rich country promises to give us a ten trillion pound loan. However, the deal could be scuppered by an outrageous request. The relationship between the civil service and the government is also a constant source of anguish, as the PM threatens any who oppose him with pension cutting reform. There’s even room for a brief look at the BBC’s dealings with the government. The tension in the second half of the show, as the Hacker is forced to choose between saving the economy and risking his career, or possibly crashing both, is palpable.
Although I can’t really speak as to the faithfulness of the show to it’s original source material, for me the show is a success. The humour cuts at the selfish egos and personalities that plague politics. It asks questions about how decisions are made behind the scenes while retaining a charm that entertains.
Yes, Prime Minister is running until 12 January 2013 at:
City of Westminster
Tel: 0844 871 7632
The London Word readers can also enjoy a special ticket offer of £29.50 Mon-Fri & Sat matinee performances 31 August. Quote “Online £29.50″ by phone or use promo code YESPM is booking online.