Like most of Britain we're pretty bored of the expenses scandal, but this fictionalised account added the right amount of new perspective and more than enough laughs to liven up the familiar story.
We enter Parliament with newly by-elected Conservative MP for Stafford West, Quentin Delaware, who brings to Westminster his passion for finance reform and a youthful naivety. Representing the two sides of the expenses scandal you have Labour Chancellor, Paula Stiff, and her long suffering husband/secretary; and her Shadow, George Moore-Lys and wife. The same two actors play both pairs and switches between roles keep you on your toes, but add to the unflattering depictions: A powerful new labour woman, balancing work and family in favour of the former; and a landed conservative trying to keep up with his City friends on the meagre resources of a member of the Shadow Cabinet.
Delaware is shown the parliamentary ropes and is shocked at the nest-feathering of some MPs. After being slighted by his party on his cherished finance reform plan he decides to use that knowledge, through an ambitious young Telegraph journalist, to restore some dignity to the house - with appropriate compensation for himself, of course... Things quickly get out of control as the Telegraph's editor adds his own spin to the data. Delaware is soon back peddling, but by that point the story has a life of its own - and the axes start to fall.
We left with mixed feelings towards the protagonists, partly wishing plague on all your houses, but also reminded that porn-buying ministers husbands, ambitious journalists willing to do anything for a story and moat maintaining Tory grandees are all only human. Stiffed! is a fun balance of thoughtfulness and humour in a tidy 75 minute package.
if you enjoyed In the Thick of It and its ilk, and can find some spare political enthusiasm at this difficult time, you'll find a lot to like.
Stiffed runs until 09 May at the Tabard Theatre, Starts 7.30pm, tickets £14/12.