Kingmaker: A Snappy Satire On The Demons That Drive Politicians

By BelindaL Last edited 77 months ago
Kingmaker: A Snappy Satire On The Demons That Drive Politicians ★★★★☆ 4

Laurence Dobiesz, Alan Cox and Joanna Bending. Photo by Jeremy Abrahams.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

Kingmaker is a witty and watchable satire on Tory politicians and the wheeling and dealing that goes on behind the scenes in politics. Staged in the authentic environs of the (recently opened) Above The Arts studio at The Arts Theatre, complete with bar in the corner to prop them up, the play transports us into a world of boozing and schmoozing that's synonymous with the entitled class.

There are plenty of twists and turns in this hour-long show, thanks to a trio who seem to have a counter for every trick their rivals pull. Tory MP Max Newman (Alan Cox) is a cross between Donald Trump and Tony Blair, whose idea of sympathy with his constituents is helicoptering in to investigate their congestion problem. Rivalling him for the leadership is Alex Deakin (Laurence Dobiesz), a weak young upstart with a dangerous lack of morals. Eleanor Hopkirk (Joanna Bending), is the fragile yet ruthless female whip. Thrown together in a dark unused office, of a deceased MP named Derek, we see these three dexterously backstab their way to the top. Our interest lies in watching the skill of each character in turning each tough situation around. Writers Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky take most of the plaudits here: their observations, such as Newman’s arrogant and self-conscious reference to Latin terms like ‘the pluperfect’ and his seven stages of winning an argument, from mock anger to mock sulking, are amusingly truthful to watch. Khan is a qualified barrister and it shows.

There is a complexity that lends a blacker edge to the comedy. Eleanor's awful family history threatens to break her at her seams, while Newman's buffoonish Boris-like image wears thin once we discover the interesting secrets in his closet.

The play's focus on the worst motivators behind any politicians' race to the top won't instil much faith in the leadership. But it has spirited topicality as it coincides with the general election, while also presenting a timeless view of the trickster politician.

Kingmaker is at the Arts Theatre (Above The Arts) until 23 May. Tickets £13/£15. Londonist saw this production on a complimentary ticket.

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Last Updated 07 May 2015