Brexit at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Brexit at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

It is 2020 and the UK has emerged out of another general election and a new Tory PM, Adam Masters must unite his party’s warring factions. Brexit is still the biggest issue of the day and rather than decide how to deal with this he tries to appease both sides by appointing Simon Cavendish a staunch leaver as minister of trade and Diana Purdy a remainer as his Brexit minister. Hoping that he can play them off against each other long enough for something bigger to come along (a gay royal wedding anyone?) but his advisor Paul Connell and Chief EU negotiator Helena Brandt has other ideas.

BrexitThe show is cleverly written, as whilst it is set in the future it is entirely foreseeable that the UK ends up in the position it mocks. It clearly shows the deadlock that the UK could (or already has) found itself in over Brexit and how the issue of Brexit polarises even those within the same party. It also demonstrates some of the inner workings of Parliament including the importance of advisors, how minsisters can be manipulated and the importance of the 1922 committee with some nice attention to detail on these matters. ‘Brexit’ the play is clever in it’s mockery of UK’s politics, subtle and suggestive rather than outlandishly ridiculing the Government. At times it was a bit too subtle and with so many comedy actors in the cast a bit more bite would have been good to help drive the plot forward and make a more marked point.

The setting of the show is also clever and well thought out for the Fringe. The majority of the action takes place in the PM’s office. Wooden paneling and an instantly recognisable green lamp sets the scene quickly. For the occasional scene away away from the PM’s office this is achieved on one side of the stage and with a simple lighting change. Consequently the pace is brisk and there are no scene changes required.

The show revolves around Timothy Bentinck who plays Adam Masters. He played Prime Minister, paralysed out of fear for his own position and unable to make a decision. While there was the odd stumble over the words his bumbling persona was perfect for this ineffective Prime Minister.  Pippa Evans played Diana Purdy and Hal Cruttenden played Simon Cavendish. They contrasted against each other well and gave enjoyable performances. Jo Caulfield as the EU Chief Negotiator had some of the best lines and of course the last laugh of the show, delivering these lines with clear enjoyment. Finally Mike McShane completes the cast as Paul Connell, the Chief of Staff who never accepts the job. It is his interpretation and portrayal of a weary attitude that I found the most akin to British Politics.

Brexit, the play is an intelligent piece of theatre but one where I would have liked a bit more drive and bite in order to really hit home.

Brexit plays at the Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance Beyond from 13:30 – 14:45 by The Spontaneity Shop.

If you like this review you might also like my review of The Monster in the Hall, Blackout and My Left Nut. 


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