Yes Prime Minister
Posted: 25 Apr 2015
By Antony Jay & Jonathan Lynn
The People’s Theatre
With a general election around the corner (in case you
hadn’t noticed), this was a well timed and suitably updated production based on
the classic TV series.
Scripts from the show were razor sharp and this one was no different. Lengthy,
rapid-fire ‘Sir Humphrey’ speeches encapsulating how bureaucratic language can
be employed to confuse rather than communicate, take some learning, let alone
delivering. On TV a slip-up can simply mean a re-take but on stage there’s no
hiding place, so hats off to Roger Liddle who as Sir Humphrey was immaculate.
Sean Burnside was equally well cast as Bernard. Provided
with some of the best killer one-liners, timing is everything if they’re not to
be wasted and Burnside wasted nothing. I couldn’t quite imagine a prime
minister with a completely shaven head (that seems to be the prerogative of
football referees) so in the first few minutes Steve Hewitt was on stage as
P.M. Jim Hacker I had as many reservations as many a floating voter deciding
where to put their cross on 7 May. However Hewitt’s command of his role soon
won me over, his quizzical expressions proving a highlight of the production.
As the special advisor Claire Sutton, Geffen Yoeli-Rimmer’s
role was to glue the script together, linking passages and often effectively
translating what had just been said in ‘civil-service speak’. She didn’t have
the ego one associates with those chosen to advise our leaders but she certainly
didn’t let the production down and neither did the supporting members of an
eight strong cast who ensured ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ got my vote.
The People’s Theatre brings the best in amateur theatre to
Tyneside. There’s a big and welcoming bar, a good pub next door (The Corner
House) and enthusiastically welcoming staff – but not much parking.