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 play a comedy about the political ambitions of a blustering but ruthless London mayor. Now they’ve turned their attention to 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 down-to-earth Diana Purdy (Pippa Evans) – against one another and hope for implosion.
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 sizeable lulls in Salinsky’s production, serious audibility issues and a strong sense that not everyone in the cast is completely on top of the twists of the script.
There are a number of sharp lines and a few well-targeted swipes at in-party squabbling, but for the most part the satire feels a bit toothless. The most brutal thing about the play is how plausible it feels that two years down the line we’ll be no nearer a solution than we are now.