Coalition, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh
Every politician needs a soundbite. For Matt Cooper MP, it’s “This party will not be broken on my watch”. Unfortunately for him, the party in question is the Liberal Democrats and it's breaking up faster than a matchstick raft on a waterfall.
Cooper, played with verve and shades of Blackadder by Thom Tuck, is the hapless anti-hero of Coalition, a hot-off-the-press satire written by someone who knows a bit about the impotence of being in power. Robert Khan has worked for the Labour party for a decade and is currently a Councillor for Islington in North London.
Together with co-creator Tom Salinsky he has put together a winning slate of comedian-performers: alongside Tuck, nominee for Best Newcomer at the 2011 Edinburgh Comedy Awards, Phill Jupitus stars as a silver-tongued Tory Minister without Portfolio (but with something of the night about him in a rather too campy turn), Jo Caulfield is a slinky, cynical Chief Whip and News Quiz staple Simon Evans puts in a cameo as the "marmelade-y voiced" PM.
The action unfolds four years into the current government, or “coalition of losers” as it's billed here. Cooper, a DPM who hasn’t spoken to his PM for six months is struggling with image problems (the opinion polls have him pegged as a "yellow amoeba"), the economy is in freefall and his party is on the verge of meltdown - literally, as he’s about to renege on his anti-Nuclear stance to unveil 12 new reactors.
The writers clearly know and love to hate their subject - the dirty deals in corridors, the niggly differences between 'strategy' and 'tactics', loyalty versus principle. There are some killer lines too. "If all I cared about was power", explodes Cooper accused of putting his own ambitions ahead of the party's. "Why on earth would I have joined the Lib Dems?"
The problem is that like its subject, Coalition doesn't quite know what it is - part House of Cards-style political intrigue, part comedy satire, it's two things yoked together that don't quite click. Veep has already probed the problems of being the second most powerful person in the country with a sharper stick.
Still, from Tuck's whirlwind of ineffectual bluster to Alistair Barrie's bluff Northen rebel, perpetually growling at being “handcuffed to an oil slick of Tories” there are no weak links in the cast. Phil Mulryne is a particular pleasure as the preternaturally smooth-faced, lightly smug young upstart with his eye on the main prize. Come to think of it, he looked worryingly familiar.
To 26 August, not 13 (0131 556 6550)
A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend
A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermesiter and vodka
- 4 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 5 Ferguson protests: 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein ‘arrested’ by police during St Louis demonstrations
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness
JK Rowling releases new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing Celestina Warbuck, the 'Singing Sorceress'
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermesiter and vodka
Kate Bush: Previously unseen photographs reveal new side to comeback star
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head