Whatsonstage.com Club Outing to Yes, Prime MinisterDate: 24 September 2010
Over one hundred and sixty theatregoers made their way to Shaftesbury Avenue's Gielgud Theatre last night for the Whatsonstage.com Outing to Yes, Prime Minister. Written by Jonathan Lynn and Sir Anthony Jay, who both created the television shows Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister some 30 years ago, the play continues to poke fun at the relationship between hapless Prime Minister (David Haig) and his Cabinet Secretary (Henry Goodman).
Speaking to theatregoers throughout the evening it seemed clear that most had seen the television series at some point - if not when they were initially broadcast then by catching the shows, which now seem to be constantly repeated on certain cable channels. Possibly the only person who publicly admitted not seeing the show was our editorial director, Terri Paddock, who gave the excuse of having grown up in America when she introduced the guests for the post show Q&A.
The show itself is a wordy and intelligent satirical comedy which closely follows the television show's formula. Characters such as Hacker's principal private secretary, Bernard Woolley (Jonathan Slinger) are still fixtures of the cast, with the main new addition being Claire Sutton (Emily Joyce) as the Prime Minister's "SPAD" or special policy advisor. The female presence adds a lot to the play, and certainly gives different perspective to the discussions which erupt throughout the play. It also gives another character to back Hacker up against the comically controlling presence of his Cabinet Secretary!
Yes, Prime Minister goes further than the television show ever dared in terms of plot lines, something Jonathan Lynn acknowledged during the question and answer session, saying that what was acceptable to TV audiences of the time, and what can be portrayed on stage now have changed. He was quick to add that he didn't think there was too much of a difference and that almost all of the material they write about is inspired by real world events!
The post show Q&A session brought an interesting mix of questions to the principals and writer/director Jonathan Lynn. One of the main topics of discussion was how much the issues tackled in the play such as global warming, moral standards, coalition government and the economic crisis mirror what happens at Westminster. Although all those involved in the show made it quite clear that it is not updated to reflect what is happening in the papers on a given day, it seems to be a strange coincidence how much of what is ridiculed by Haig and Goodman on stage draws parallels in the papers on a daily basis.
There were a lot of great photographs taken last night, some of which are in the gallery above. We also started documenting our outings by taking pictures of our theatregoers throughout the night, some of which have been added to the Whatsonstage.com Facebook group which you can find at Facebook.com/whatsonstage.
Please feel free to email any thoughts and comments about the play to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you. Thanks again for joining us for this event and please check the homepage for any future Outings.
- Andrew Girvan