Two recent West End comedies – Steve Thompson’s new political farce Whipping It Up and the revival of Michael Frayn’s 1977 Olivier Award winner Donkeys' Years - both embark on national tours next week.

In Donkeys' Years, the plot follows the return of six former students to their university college for a reunion dinner 25 years after their graduation. Locked in for the night, the graduates begin to relive their youth, with all its chaotic friendships and feuds.

Last year, Jeremy Sams’ revival extended for seven months through to December at the West End’s Comedy Theatre (See News, 6 Nov 2006), where the original cast included David Haig, Samantha Bond, Mark Addy, James Dreyfus and Michael Simkins, who takes over directing duties for the regional outing. The tour stars former EastEnders star Ian Lavender, Norman Pace of The Hale and Pace Show, Award nominee Mark Hadfield (for Therese Raquin at the National), and Sara Crowe.

The Donkeys' Years tour opens at Richmond Theatre on 5 September 2007, then visits Brighton, Milton Keynes, Woking, Cardiff, Southhampton, Bromley, Eastbourne, Stoke, Glasgow, Bath and Malvern, where the schedule concludes on 8 December, with further dates to be announced for 2008.

Richard Wilson (pictured), still best known to TV fans as Victor Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave, reprises his role as the wily Chief Whip in Steve Thompson’s Houses of Parliament-set Whipping It Up, which opens its tour on 4 September 2007 at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking.

It's a week before Christmas, and the new Tory government is facing dissent over its latest bill. With a majority of only three, the Whip's office is out in full force, and they'll stop at nothing to keep the strays in line. But they're in for a long night: boy scouts are rioting in Whitehall, the PM's golfing with the President, five Tory rebels are on the loose and the Chief Whip's playing at Santa. Could this be the beginnings of a leadership challenge?

The satire, directed by Terry Johnson and subsequently Tamara Harvey, premiered in November 2006 at west London’s 100-seat Bush Theatre (See News, 12 Jul 2006), where it had an extended, sell-out pre-Christmas run and was nominated for Best New Comedy in the Awards. It then transferred in March 2007 to the West End’s New Ambassadors Theatre, where it had a three-month run.

Following Woking, Whipping It Up calls at Southend, Cheltenham, Aberdeen, Richmond, Brighton, Bath, Glasgow, Bromley, before reaching its final destination, the Lowry Theatre in Manchester, where it finishes on 24 November 2007.

- by Stuart Denison & Terri Paddock