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Coalition (Edinburgh)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Despite being a central component of its early popularity, satire is now a sad shadow of its former self at the Edinburgh Fringe.

So I was heartened to see this new comedy by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky in the programme, which tackles the coalition government head on and features a wealth of performing talent including Phill Jupitus, Thom Tuck and Jo Caulfield.

Set in 2014 in the run-up to the next election, the play sees Lib Dem leader Matt Cooper (Tuck) desperately trying to keep his party and career together amid numerous back-stabbings, dodgy deals and media stitch-ups. As his energy minister turns toxic after a nuclear fall-out, the looming by-election threatens to put the final nail in the coalition coffin.

Jupitus camps it up gloriously as a creepy Tory minister, sporting a waistcoat and trim beard that ironically makes him look like an inflated Lenin. Caulfield’s talents are largely wasted in a slim role as a sardonic Chief Whip, but there’s a fine understated turn from Jessica Regan as Cooper’s long-suffering advisor.

As satire it sticks to the big targets and, although peppered with sharp lines (in a running gag Cooper’s predecessors are referred to as “the colonel, the pensioner and the soak”), there’s nothing here to rival The Thick of It. But nevertheless, it’s nice to see at least an attempt to revive the satirical ghost of the Fringe.


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