Kings Theatre, Glasgow
Something ever so slightly shocking happens towards the end of the
first act of Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn’s updated stage version of
their 1980s political TV sit-com. One minute PM Jim Hacker, his cabinet
secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby and private secretary Bernard Wooley are
in Chequers trading decidedly old-school repartee that nevertheless
reveals them to be occupying a world filled with Blackberries, Euros,
global warming, a brand new recession and female advisers in the shape
of the formidable Claire Sutton. The next they’re considering the moral
maze that comes with the prospect of procuring an under-age prostitute
for the foreign secretary of the imaginary state of Kumranistan in
exchange for a loan.
In a show that in the brutal age personified by the far racier environs
of The Thick of It, such a lurch shows how politics has become even
nastier since the days of Thatcherism that still hang heavy over
Westminster and beyond. What follows beyond such a debate in Lynn’s
production nevertheless becomes an excuse for a silly and slightly
over-long farce involving Machiavellian manipulation of the BBC and a
suggestion that no matter how much deep water they get themselves in,
the men and women at the top will always survive.
Except, no matter how much Simon Williams’ Sir Humphrey and Richard
McCabe’s Hacker wangle their way out of the deepest of doo-doo, in an
age where politicians are being imprisoned in relation to improprieties
both sexual and monetary, as with the bankers, we need more. Or do we?
This is by all accounts the Kings’ biggest selling show this season.
Austerity chic, it seems, has yet to affect the market in nostalgia.
The Herald, March 15th 2011