Review: Yes, Prime Minister, by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until April 27
- Credit: Archant
The recent demise of Margaret Thatcher and subsequent media coverage has got us in a political mood so this play comes at an opportune moment. Updated with BlackBerries, terrorism and global warming Prime Minister Jim Hacker (Michael Fenton Stevens) and Sir Humphrey Appleby (Crispin Redman) indulge in a duel for governmental control, a battle familiar to devotees of the long-running television series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister.
Crispin Redman made a splendid job of Sir Humphrey’s obfuscatory monologues that bamboozled the PM and elicited spontaneous audience applause. Michael Matus, as Bernard Woolley, has to tread a fine line between support for the PM and loyalty to Sir Humphrey: his ponderous explanations of who said what to whom and when, and quiet pedantic corrections of mixed metaphors, were a comic delight.
The action takes place at Chequers, the PM’s country residence, on the eve of a conference that Hacker believes will keep him in office, sort out the fuel crisis and enhance his status in Europe. Of necessity Act 1 is very wordy and as might be expected from Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn contained quick-fire political satire of wit and depth. That it was occasionally laboured could be laid at the door of the conundrum of acceding to a request for call girls by the resident Foreign Minister of Kumranistan. Together with Claire Sutton (Indra Ove), the PM’s Special Policy Advisor, the three are immersed in the complexities of morality versus the common good. Bordering on farce, the PM loses the plot as he and Sir Humphrey battle it out to arrive at a mutually acceptable compromise.