Theatre Review: Yes, Prime Minister

Yes, Prime Minister

Run: 13 May – 5 June 2010 at the Chichester Festival Theatre

Genre: Comedy

Written by: Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn

Starring: Henry Goodman and David Haig

Prime Minister Jim Hacker, played by David Haig, is the perfect man for the job as leader of the country. Especially in the eyes of his closest advisor and civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby, played superbly by Henry Goodman who proclaims ‘it’s the only job that doesn’t require any previous experience!’ The PM displays a complete lack of direction and focus in a crisis situation, with the country on the brink of financial meltdown and the Government’s only apparent salvation coming from an unlikely source and a deal with the Foreign Minister of Kumranistan.

The play takes place over a weekend at chequers; an all important European Conference is taking place and all leading to a BBC Interview on the Sunday morning. All the while the PM and his advisors try to solve global warming and immigration, save the European economy, and all the time trying to satisfy the needs of the Foreign Minister of Kumranistan with his morally dubious request. The PM realises without the support of the Foreign Minister the whole deal will collapse and the Government will try everything to solve the situation with the foreign minister, from praying to god to calling the CIA.

One of the highlights of the show was Sir Humphrey’s ability to talk for what seemed like hours, without actually telling you anything or actually coming to the point. Sir Humphrey is the face of the ‘self serving civil service’, and is the real power behind the politics and is calling the shots and manipulating those around him to meet his own agenda. However he does this superbly and is fantastic to listen to and to watch, Goodman plays a great and memorable character and rapturous applause followed his wonderful speeches.

The rest of the PM’s team is made up with the brilliant Emily Joyce as Claire Sutton, the voice of reason and a good judge of character she is focused and uses her ingenuity to keep peoples feet on the ground, and the very funny Jonathan Slinger as Bernard Woolley, his character is sometimes strong, using his moral compass and trying to be helpful where he can. He retreats into the background when things go above his ‘job description’ and even has the PM questioning whether he is in the right job.

Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay are both back on board and it’s obvious they haven’t lost a single thing in bringing this to the stage. The script is current and up to date and reflects brilliantly current political affairs, making it very topical and very funny, right down to a jibe about the hung parliament, with Sir Humphrey politely suggesting, ‘Yes they should be hung’ From the hilarious wall chart pipeline in the opening scene to David Haig’s wonderful performance as Jim Hacker I could watch this again and again, I’m even inspired to re-watch the TV series. A fantastic night and a wonderful show, I look forward to seeing more of Yes, Prime Minister.

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