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Yes, Prime Minister

'Yes, Prime Minister' opens the spring rep season at Leatherhead Theatre - and if you haven't already got tickets then book now. It's fabulously funny and incredibly entertaining.

Rep Theatre made its comeback at Leatherhead Theatre last night with Hordern Ciani’s production of Yes, Prime Minister – and if you weren’t there you missed out on a fabulously funny and incredibly entertaining show.

Based on the popular Eighties television sitcom Yes, Minister, the play follows the interactions of PM Jim Hacker and his team: Cabinet Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, Principal Private Secretary, Bernard Woolley, and Special Adviser Claire Sutton.

I never saw the telly version, but it matters not a jot. Although the stage version has been written by the same team from the TV series – Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn – it is entirely self contained and doesn’t assume its audience has any prior knowledge. It is – though – sharp, zany and witty as ever.

The play opens to a scene in the Prime Minister’s study at Chequers. The UK is in crisis and the PM has had a particularly bad day – debt is spiralling, unemployment is on the rise, his Cabinet is divided, and a European Council conference faces potential collapse.

Salvation is offered in the form of a complex deal from oil-rich central Asian state Kumranistan who offers a £10 trillion loan to build a pipeline that zig-zags hilariously throughout the whole of Europe, benefitting each country. Nothing is straightforward though, and the deal is thrown into disarray when the country’s foreign secretary asks the government to provide him with the company of three women for the night for – to the horror of all – an orgy.

What follows is a farcical story that goes from the improbable to the outlandishly far-fetched – and it’s all the more funny for it. Berlusconi’s Bunga Bunga parties get a mention, as does Bill Clinton and his own sex scandal.

The cast here is small – just five actors – and it’s difficult to single anyone out. William Hazell is comical as the PM, veering from a witless stooge to at times an almost enlightened and intelligent PM.

Keith Hill takes on the role of Sir Humphrey Appleby with aplomb, nailing the convoluted and hilarious monologues, and Jack Mosedale is superb as the loyal and pedantic Bernard Woolley.

Katherine Mount, a co-founder of Hordern Ciani and show producer, plays the sharp, witty and dependable Claire Sutton. There’s also great support from Peter Steele as the English-educated Ambassador of Kumranistan.

Yes, Prime Minister is a great return to rep theatre for Leatherhead, and hopefully an indication of the future fortunes of a theatre that was once one of the best-known in the country. It’s a fabulous night of high-quality entertainment, made all the better by the fact that it’s local, and I urge you to book your tickets now.

Yes, Prime Minister runs all this week, ending on Saturday 21 April. Next week, from Tues 24 April, The Secret Garden will run, and the following week from Tues 1 May Communicating Doors will take to the stage. Tickets are £18 for each show. Seasons tickets are also available.



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