Monday, 25 February 2013

Coalition - review

Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

The Pleasance, London

Coalition is a very satisfying play (if you voted Lib Dem and were subsequently sorely disappointed), and an impressive debut from Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky (also directing), which doesn't necessarily make an earth shattering point but neatly sums up a wealth of opinion on our current government. Matt Cooper (Thom Tuck), the central character, is a thinly veiled equivalent of Nick Clegg, desperately trying to out manoeuvre the Tories by playing dirty and betraying his Lib Dem ideals. 

Khan has incorporated some clever parallels to Dr Faustus - Cooper sells his left-wing soul by making deals with the nasty Tory fop Phil Jupitus who delights as the Mephistopheles of the drama wafting in and planting seeds of doubt and discord.

There’s also some great comic performances from the super keen PR man Eric Shakespeare (John Dorney) who sums up Cooper’s (Clegg’s, really…) career in a succinct 6 phase summary, and the young puppy politician Eddie Frackowiak MP (Phil Mulryne) who also falls foul of the devilish Francis. 

The pace needed to pick up a little faster, but once the company warmed up the laughs came thick and fast. Particular highlights are the farcical phone scenes as Matt Cooper and his assistant Claudia (Jessica Regan) attempt to juggle various phone calls from disgruntled Lib Dems who are all threatening to defect. Tuck is balanced well with the straight man performance from Alistair Barrie as the steadfast energy secretary, and Jo Caulfield is suitably serene and superior in her role as chief Liberal Democrat whip. 

It is a shrewdly observed snipey dig at politicians who appear to be completely focussed on their positions of power, and a swipe at the endless political games which distract from any actual political integrity and policy making. Amongst the frivolity however, there is a serious message delivered by Claudia who faces down Cooper and frankly tells him that once the public loved him, but now they hate him and he’ll just have to deal with the consequences. 

This production runs until 10 March 2013. 

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