I wish I had watched some of the ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ TV series, because at the play I felt I was missing something; most of the chuckling audience were obviously in on the cult. This political farce seems to keep reappearing on Shaftesbury Avenue, which makes me think that it must be very popular with the British public. It's back for a final run at the Gielgud Theatre - I went to see what all the fuss is about.
Having visited Chequers myself (!) I was pleased to see that the set replicated the venue accurately, a well to do living room with vast bookcases and lots of shiny mahogany. The action takes place solely in this room, where Sir Humphrey Appleby (Cabinet Secretary), Jim Hacker (Prime Minister), Bernard Woolley (Principal Private Secretary) and Claire Sutton (Special Policy Advisor) all debate a ridiculously silly conundrum, a dispute which lasts pretty much the whole duration of the play.
Political stereotypes are milked excessively and blatantly so that even I, a political dunce, could laugh at the crude jokes. I must admit, some parts are very funny, and for a fan of the TV series I imagine this provides a great night out. It is also worth mentioning that I was put in a bad mood by the unbearably hot temperature of the theatre. At first I thought I must be getting ill, but during the interval I heard numerous other guests complaining, and throughout the second half doubling up the programme as a fan was the only way to go. The actors seemed to be suffering too, I can only imagine how hot they must have been on stage.
The acting was good throughout with a particularly memorable performance from Chris Larkin as the stammering Bernard Woolley. Simon Williams too gives a smooth and charismatic rendition of Sir Humphrey, tackling the fast wordy passages with gusto and getting the majority of the laughs. Richard McCabe as the Prime Minister is full of energy, though at times reminded me of a hyperactive teenager.
Yes Prime Minister continues until 19th November, book here.