Brexit (Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 14, 2018 in Theatre

Writers: Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky      Director: Tom Salinsky


With the Westminster Parliament in recess, things have gone a little quiet regarding everybody’s favourite subject – Brexit – so, for those showing withdrawal symptoms, here we have an antidote until things hot up again.

When the United Kingdom as a whole overrode the wishes of Scotland and London among others in June 2016, a seemingly unstoppable course was set for us the exit the European Union. Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky’s satire takes a crystal ball to look into the not too distant future and sees chaos, with a governing party split down the middle and a main opposition party sitting resolutely on the fence. Well yes, but isn’t that exactly what we have already? The writers’ problem is finding a way to satirise something that is already an utter farce.

The play begins with the duplicitous Adam Masters (Timothy Bentinck) having just taken over from “Matron” as Prime Minister. He urges his election campaign manager Paul Connell (Mike McShane) to accept a job as his senior adviser, knowing that he will need a scapegoat when things go wrong and appoints to his cabinet to do much the same job  two politicians with diametrically opposing views: Simon Cavendish (Hal Cruttenden) is so fervently anti-EU that he has I Vow to Thee My Country as his ringtone and he is to be Trade Secretary; Diana Purdy (Pippa Evans) an equally fervent Remainiac is to be Brexit Secretary.

Masters also subscribes to a political doctrine, which is to do absolutely nothing, and he plans to continue with transitional arrangements with the EU in perpetuity. At one point, he thinks that things might die down so that the UK could quietly rejoin and suggests this to EU negotiator Helena Brandt (Jo Caulfield). When she advises him that joining the Euro would then be mandatory, seeing the frozen look of horror on Bentinck’s face is almost worth the ticket price on its own.

The play has some good jokes scattered here and there and a quintet of top-class comedy actors makes it all palatable, but we are still left questioning what is the point. Satire is supposed to magnify and expose absurdities, but all we have here is a rather limp comedy that feels uncomfortably real.

Performance date: 9 August 2018

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub:

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