Political satire from ’80s gets modern twist

Back, from left, Guy Steddon, Julian Batstone, Sarah Frost and Tony Brownings, with, front, Dave Peaty and Annabelle Heath SUS-150219-132221003
Back, from left, Guy Steddon, Julian Batstone, Sarah Frost and Tony Brownings, with, front, Dave Peaty and Annabelle Heath SUS-150219-132221003
  • Wick Theatre Company at the Barn Theatre, Southwick
  • Cast recreated key characters in their own style
  • Second half turns farcical and a little ridiculous

WITH the General Election fast approaching, Wick Theatre Company found the perfect play for their spring production.

Director John Garland said Yes Prime Minister was an obvious choice, bringing it to the Barn Theatre stage in Southwick last week.

The main characters from the award-winning television series were still there – Sir Humphrey Appleby, Jim Hacker and Bernard Woolley – but Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn had updated the story to include much more modern references.

The Wick cast recreated this well-known trio in their own style, while retaining key features like Sir Humphrey’s well-known, long-winded statements and manipulation.

In this story, Prime Minister Jim has a new special policy adviser, Claire Sutton, which rather pushes Sir Humphrey from the foreground and the position of control he prefers.

Sarah Frost was commanding in the adviser role and a joy to watch, taking charge in a crisis and adding to the humour when it turned out her advice may not have been the best after all.

Part of the comedy is the fact we the audience have about as much understanding of what he is going on about as the Prime Minister, which is not a lot!

Elaine Hammond, reviewer

Julian Batstone gave a good performance as the slightly nervy principle private secretary, Bernard. The very wordy, complicated script did appear to have him stumbling over a few lines, although some of that seemed to be for effect.

Guy Steddon, meanwhile, was in full control as Sir Humphrey, getting those verbose passages out without any problems.

Part of the comedy is the fact we the audience have about as much understanding of what he is going on about as the Prime Minister, which is not a lot!

In this case, the plot took us through topics like global warming, moral dilemmas, oil, illegal immigrants and currency, perhaps trying to encompass too many aspects at once and at times making it over complicated and a little too long.

Making up the third of the key three was David Peaty, who was equally effective in his role as Jim Hacker.

There were some lovely subtle touches, like his regular visits to the drinks cabinet, hidden in a globe, and hiding under the desk when it all got too much.

The second half became quite farcical with some ridiculous goings on in a bid to satisfy the whims of the Kumranistan Ambassador.

But there was a nice little performance from Annabelle Heath as the BBC presenter Simone Chester, who chose to employ an accent for the role. And there were some clever little digs at the BBC in the script, too.

For the set, Mr Garland said he had given the backstage team a big challenge and they had risen magnificently to the occasion. It is true that there were some good aspects in the set but I found the mismatched sofa and chair distracting, thinking there surely would have been a bit better furniture in the study at Chequers.