Political satire can go over the heads of those less well versed in politics but that is not so with Robert Kahn and Tom Salinsky’s Coalition which deservedly received bountiful 4 star reviews on its opening at Edinburgh Fringe. The Public Review hailed it as being “Packed with cracking one-liners and satirical wit… the funniest farce on politics in recent Edinburgh history.” Luckily if you missed it at the Fringe you haven’t missed out as Liverpool Drama Society have taken on the challenge and have excelled.
Coalition tells the story of Lib Dem Deputy PM Matt Cooper who, willing as he is to bully and bargain to get what he wants, teeters on the brink of disaster; with threats of defection and mutiny from those within his party sick of capitulation to Tory whims.
Geraint Williams takes on the role of Matt Cooper, a role which the program states he was ‘born to play’ a statement which proves hard to disagree with considering his polished smarminess and wonderfully projected voice (though occasionally his words come out a little fast), as well his talent for juggling multiple hectic phone calls. But Williams wasn’t just limited to smarminess, he also depicted the stress and dawning realisation of failure perfectly. On the subject of more down to earth and less fanciful characters Alice Asson gave a great debut performance for LUDs with her understated role of Angela Hornby, characterised by her withering looks and Daniel Murphy made an excellent Geoffrey Webb, seemingly the only MP truly committed to his principles, as he managed to have the character taken seriously even in the face of Matt Coopers’s humour. Similarly Helen Goaley was excellent as Claudia Hood. Despite being underpowered vocally, her character was the easiest to sympathise with due to Goaley’s portrayal of her as innocent and loyal yet increasingly disillusioned. Alun Simpson playing Prime Minister Richard Macintosh was also vocally underpowered at times but despite this managed to convey the gravitas of the PM’s role as well as a sense of entitlement only found in those in power.
These more serious characters stand in contrast to the more caricature-like roles of Eddie Fracowiak, Steve Lawson, Eric Shakespeare and Tim Fowler played by Solomon Blakeley, Liam Hale, Toby Hall, and Guy Nicholls respectively. These roles, despite their more one dimensional personality in the script, did not come across this way in the play itself thanks to the commitment to and slant on the character by each actor.
The show however was stolen by Benedict Spence’s portrayal of the magically appearing and delightfully dastardly Sir Francis Whitford, Tory MP. His fellow LUDsies have this to say about Spence:
‘With the exception of Piers Morgan, never before in the course of human history has a man been bestowed with such an inflated, undeserved sense of self-worth. It is unsurprising, therefore, that he has made the transition from camp, slippery public schoolboy to camp, slippery Tory cabinet minister pretty seamlessly.’ (From the show’s programme)
Certainly once you have seen the play this statement is very easy to believe.
The sound and lighting were very effective despite their minimalism (and the accidental extra phone ring), particularly in the opening scene, and the staging was simplistic yet versatile.
Overall the directors must be congratulated!