Stagecraft presents "Yes Prime Minister" this August
L-R: Paul Stone, Antony Jones, Lee Dowsett and Rebecca Wilson.
“They elected me. I represent the will of people. If I want it, they do!”... “Yes Prime Minister”
Stagecraft is delighted to bring its production of the hit comedy "Yes Prime Minister" to the stage, as part of its 60th Anniversary Season, at the Gryphon Theatre from the 29th of August to the 8th of September.
Set in comparatively simpler times before Trump and Brexit, Stagecraft’s hilarious production of "Yes Prime Minister" depicts a United Kingdom on the brink of economic collapse (so perhaps not that far-fetched an idea). In these desperate times, embattled Prime Minister Jim Hacker must make difficult choices. How far down the road of moral compromise should he go to meet the demands of the President of Kumranistan to secure a pipeline deal that could bring prosperity to the UK? And more importantly, how can he get away with it?
Political satire has recently become a fraught business, with real-life inhabiting the more bizarre version of events, leaving satirists scrambling to create a more ridiculous interpretation. Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, the writers of the original TV series, wrote this fast paced satirical comedy with a close eye on the weaknesses and ego of the human being behind the politician. At a time when personality politics dominates the political scene, this plays cleverly explores this tension between the public face and private follies of leaders in office, a theme just as relevant to New Zealand as it is to the UK. But this play is not just for fans of the show, nor does it require extensive political awareness.
“I’ve never worked in government, I don’t know how it all works,” says director Andrew Cross, when asked what drew him to direct the play. “I just really like British humour and this is some of the best out there.” He believes this production is irreverent, witty, and will appeal to anyone, irrespective of their grasp of politics.
However, those of us who do work in government will no doubt recognise some of the daily absurdities that this play touches on. “This play cannot fail to please in the capital,” says Paul Stone, who plays the red-tape loving Sir Humphrey Appleby.
“The humour is great fun and very intelligent,” adds Antony Jones, who plays Prime Minister Jim Hacker.
While some might be daunted at taking on such iconic roles from the television series, there are also those new to the characters who are making them their own. Lee Dowsett, playing Private Secretary Bernard Woolley says “I was too young to have seen the TV show when it was first on, and have avoided watching any of the episodes so that my interpretation of the character doesn’t end up as an impression of the TV version.”
One of the advantages of how this script has been written is that it stands alone as a very funny comedy. "The stage version has been brought up to date” says Rebecca Wilson who plays the PM’s Special Advisor, Claire Sutton. “It is great to play such a strong female character.”