Theatre Review: Brexit - Trying To Leave The EU And Make It Funny For All

Brexit, King’s Head Theatre ★★★☆☆

By Johnny Fox Last edited 6 months ago

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Theatre Review: Brexit - Trying To Leave The EU And Make It Funny For All Brexit, King’s Head Theatre 3
Photo: Steve Ullathorne

Since everything about Brexit is double-edged, it seems ironic this play sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe, but also received a lot of 2-star reviews. It's an excellent idea — to position a new post-May prime minister challenged with managing an unresolved withdrawal from the EU — but harder to wring satisfactory comedy out of it.

It’s 2020, and incoming PM Adam Masters, played with shambling indecision and ingrained fear of the press by Timothy Bentinck, is torn between rival wings of his party. He appoints as Brexit Secretary a pro-Brussels female MP with the stamp of an Anna Soubry, played as a ruthless Snapchatting harpy by Pippa Evans. However, as Trade minister a staunch Brexiteer, spendidly realised by Thom Tuck as an oleaginous Michael Gove type who must need hosing down with a degreasing agent after every performance.

It’s a game setup, but some impeded agility on the tight stage, and some characters not quite being crisp enough with the lines makes it feel intermittently underpowered and static. It’s also slightly oddly cast with excellent comedians Pippa Evans and Lucy Montgomery playing senior politicians twenty years before they’d realistically achieve such promotion.

Although there are decent laugh-out-loud jokes which please both sides, it’s all a bit Radio 4 Friday night comedy podcast. It misses the glorious balancing act of Yes, Minister or — despite Paul Connell’s convincing turn as the PM’s despairing political advisor — the energising filthy invective of Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It.

Still, unlike Brexit itself, it’s all over in 75 minutes.

Brexit, King’s Head Theatre, Upper Street Islington, N1. Tickets £19.50, until 17 November 2018.

Last Updated 06 November 2018