Very courageous Minister!

Last night we went to The Grand Theatre in Leeds to see the new version of Yes Prime Minister.

I have always been a fan of Yes Minister and the later Yes Prime Minister and was looking forward to seeing the new stage adaptation.  There was always a risk that the characters of Sir Humphrey, Jim Hacker and Bernard Woolley had become inextricable linked with Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne and David Folwds.

To some extent that was indeed the case.  In this version Simon Williams played Sir Humphrey Appleby and Richard McCabe played Jim Hacker and Chris Larkin, Bernard Wolley.

I thought Williams gave a good performance as the verbose Sir Humphrey.  He delivered the ‘big speeches’ wonderfully, though by the end he was sounding rather horse, but I guess that is to be expected after a longish run. McCabe’s Hacker was lacking something and in some places felt more Gordon Brown than Jim Hacker.  Unfortunately Larkin’s Woolley just made me feel uncomfortable.

As with most plays the second half ran better than the first with the majority of the gags flowing faster and smoother. There were a few clever touches with sound effects and a very funny moment with Sir Humphrey making a dramatic entrance as Hacker asks ‘Is that GOD?’.  With Humphrey replying ‘ No Minister, just me’.  An amusing double meaning with the current (real) Cabinet Secretary being Sir Gus O’Donnell, initials GOD.

Oddly I felt that this updated version didn’t quiet transition as well as it could have.  Perhaps because we now have Malcolm Tucker and The Thick of It.  I think it would have worked better if they had left the script in the 1980’s.

The staging was very good though, particularly the clothing of the new character of Claire Sutton which really is the Westminster uniform of LK Bennett Shoes and Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress and reminded me of so many women I used to work with when I was down there.

All in all it was a good night out, my first visit to The Grand, and my first visit to the theatre in just far too long. Something that I would really like to remedy.


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