Yes Prime Minister

Date 12th March 2015
Society Wick Theatre Company
Venue The Barn Theatre, Southwick
Type of Production Play
Director John Garland

Report

Author: Lance Milton

The halls of Chequers and the Prime Ministers private study are frenetically buzzing as we are introduced to the plot line of this Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn penned comedy based on their classic TV series which starred Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne. Our cast, the leaders of the British nation, are in preparation for a morally bankrupt deal with the Foreign Ministers of fictional soviet break-away state of Kumranistan. Of course this would never happen in real life would it? Actually that is the brilliance of the Wick Theatre Company's timing, with a superb reminder of just what we are NOT voting for in May, just in time for the media frenzy to begin in the run up to the real up-coming general election.

John Garlands direction and staging of the great material lent itself perfectly to the dry and understated intention of the writing team. You can only get comedy like this across well when it is beautifully sincere and inconspicuous in its delivery. The cast all devoured this challenge with characters as devious as they were sanguine. The lion's share of the lines are split fairly evenly between the four principal characters, headed by a most plausible and actually quite congenial David Peaty as Prime Minister, Jim Hacker. Julian Batstone was a suitably anxious and disingenuous Bernard Woolley the PM's Private Secretary and brought an affable edge to the role that veered away beautifully from the expected stereotype portrayed by Derek Fowlds in the BBC version. Sarah Frost was a wonderfully innate Claire Sutton, the PM's special policy advisor. However the stand out performance, somewhat because of the gift of superb script writing in places but certainly as much because of his exceptional stage presence and comic timing, was that of Guy Steddon as Sir Humprey Appleby who deceitfully squirmed his way through the piece with the comprehensive narcissism one loves and expects from this character. Annebelle Heath, Bob Ryder, Tony Brownings and Peter Joyce all supported with first class cameo appearances which supplemented the realism rather than detracting.

Technically the superb onstage performances were supported very well indeed with fabulous set, the Prime Ministers office, designed by Judith Berrill and created by Nigel Goldfinch, Carl Gray, Gary Walker, Dave Collis, Dave Comber, Sue Chaplin, Sheila Neesham and Margaret Davy and allegedly painted right up to the wire with last minute assistance by the director himself! Wardrobe [Maggi Pierce & Cherry Fraser] was perfect for the period and setting of the play as were properties by Anita Shipton and Di Tidzer. Martin Oakley lead Hannah Talbot and Kieran Pollard in the lighting design which was simple but effective similarly to Bob Ryder and Brain Jones sound.

I shared a thoroughly enjoyable first visit to the company as their new NODA rep with an appreciative audience and fabulous company in the form of WTC representative Rosemary Bouchy.