Brexit review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘political satire that suffers from poor pacing’
Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky have carved out a niche for themselves writing topical political plays populated by a cast of comedians. Previous efforts include Coalition and Kingmaker, the latter about the political ambitions of a London mayor. Now, perhaps inevitably, they’re tackling Brexit.
It’s 2020 and the UK is still struggling to extract itself from the European Union. The man tasked with cleaning up the mess is new prime minister Adam Masters (Timothy Bentinck). The trouble is he doesn’t really have a plan. His solution is to pit two opposing ministers – posh eurosceptic Simon Cavendish (Hal Cruttenden) and Diana Purdy (Pippa Evans) – against one another and hope for implosion.
There are some smart lines and nice swipes at political in-party squabbling. Cruttenden is amusingly smarmy and Mike McShane stands out as a duplicitous adviser to the prime minister. But this kind of Yes Minister set-up needs to be delivered swiftly and snappily and at the moment that’s simply not the case. There are lulls in Salinsky’s production, audibility issues and the sense that not everyone is completely on top of the twists of the script. Its claws also are a bit blunt.
The most brutal thing about the play is how plausible it is that two years down the line we’ll be no nearer a solution than we are now.