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posted/updated: 12 Aug 2018 -
Brexit - ★★★★
By Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky. Produced by The Spontaneity Shop
society/company: Edinburgh Festival Fringe (directory)
performance date: 11 Aug 2018
venue: Pleasance Beyond
reviewer/s: Chris Abbott (Sardines review)


This was not an event to miss; a newly written drama about Brexit with all the parts played by comedy and media names. As the Prime Minister, radio’s David Archer, Timothy Bentinck, might not have been a familiar face but was instantly recognisable to many of the audience as soon as he spoke. He also turned out to be an experienced and effective actor, and very much the pivot of the whole piece.

Around the PM swirled a supporting cast of battling Ministers and consultants, plus Jo Caulfield as a totally convincing EU negotiator. Caulfield’s background is mainly in comedy but she was totally at home in this scripted piece, which is more than can be said for some of the rest of the cast. Pippa Evans, so good at improvisation, seemed uneasy with the demands of a rigid script, as did Mike McShane as a consultant. Hal Cruttenden trained as an actor and seemed up to the demands but his character was not as distinctive as some of the others.

Despite these caveats, this was a very entertaining 75 mins but would probably be even more successful if it had stopped after an hour. It was played out against a proper set (Sophia Simensky) and directed by Tom Salinsky, who might not have required so much of the action to take place from a seated position if he had known about the deficiencies of the sightlines at Pleasance Beyond.

Salinsky was also co-author with Robert Khan, who was himself one of the producers – perhaps another example of the need for a dispassionate and detached producer who will get the most out of a production. The gags were good, however, and this cast know how to deliver them, so a good time was had by the capacity audience, and the narrative developed to a satisfactory conclusion.

There were even a few core truths included, such as the suggestion the “the Remain side were too used to winning.” The music-underscored transitions helped to smooth out the large number of separate scenes, more suited to television than stage, and the narrative built to an effective crescendo. A tale of the Tory party in turmoil then, but perhaps with an ending more rooted in wish fulfilment than reality.

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