Kingmaker** (Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 12, 2014 in Theatre

kingmaker square 200x200In the not too distant future, a Tory Prime Minister resigns and the leading candidate to replace him is a former Mayor of London, now returned to Parliament, who happens to be a bumbling, accident prone buffoon. A highly unlikely premise maybe, but it is the starting point for this play by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky. The only other candidate in the leadership race is a very green junior minister (Laurence Dobiesz), who has been put there by Max Newman (the former Mayor) himself, because he is certain of beating him, but a disaffected Whip (Joanna Bending) sets out to thwart the plans by raking up an old scandal. The play begins as a very promising satirical comedy, but dries up very disappointingly to become no more than a routine drama of political intrigue. The chief problem is that Alan Cox plays Newman so that he looks and sounds like every politician who has ever been cloned from Tony Blair, without a hint of the outrageous character described in the script, a man who believes that public opinion will forgive him for any gaffe or indiscretion. Accepting that an outright impersonation of the politician that we all know this is meant to represent may have been impossible for legal reasons, just a little touch of comedy, even the occasional pratfall, could have helped to lighten proceedings. As it is, the only message in this rather humourless play is that all politicians are scheming sleaze bags. Well, who would have known?

Performance date: 12 August 2014

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