The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
March 11, 12, 13 & 14, 2015.
Yes, Prime Minister
by Antony Jay & Jonathan Lyn
Annabelle Heath – Simone Chester [BBC Presenter]
Julian Batstone – Bernard Woolley [PM’s Principal Private Secretary]
Guy Steddon – Sir Humphrey Appleby [Cabinet Secretary]
David Peaty – Jim Hacker [Prime Minister]
Sarah Frost – Claire Sutton [PM’s Special Policy Advisor]
Bob Ryder – Robin Simpson [BBC Press Officer]
Tony Brownings – Kumranistan Ambassador
Peter Joyce – Jeremy Burnham [BBC’s Director General]
Stage Manager – Dan Dryer
Set Design – Judith Berrill
Lighting & Projection Design – Martin Oakley
Lighting Operation – Kieran Pollard
Lighting Operation – Hannah Talbot
Sound Design – Bob Ryder
Sound Operation – Brian Jones
Set Construction – Nigel Goldfinch
Set Construction – Carl Gray
Set Construction – Gary Walker
Set Construction – Dave Collis
Set Construction – Dave Comber
Set Painting – Sue Chaplin
Set Painting – Sheila Neesham
Set Painting – Margaret Davy
Wardrobe – Maggi Pierce
Wardrobe – Cherry Fraser
Properties – Anita Shipton
Properties – Di Tidzer
Poster Design – Judith Berrill
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Maggi Pierce
Publicity – Peter Joyce
Programme Design – Richard Joyce
Front of House – Betty Dawes
Programme Note #1: Yes, Prime Minister
JG wrote: ” When we discovered early last year that the rights to perform Yes Prime Minister were to become available, it was an obvious choice to schedule it in the run-up to the General Election, and I am grateful to the committee for allowing me to direct once more.
Most of you will be aware of the award-winning TV series that ended in 1988, but this is a new play, premiered at Chichester in May 2010 and then transferring to London where it ran to rave reviews until 2012.
Several of the characters may therefore be familiar, but I have been lucky to have a talented group of actors to re-create them in a unique style and to have a backstage team who have also risen so magnificently to the challenges I have set them.
Whichever way you decide to vote in May, I hope you enjoy your evening and leave slightly more aware that our politicians (from all parties) may be spinning the truth for their own gain! ”
Programme Note #2: Yes, Prime Minister
About the Cast
Dave Peaty is fresh from his success Uncle Harvey in Season’s Greetings.
Guy Steddon, with Brighton & Hove Art Council best actor and best supporting actor awards to his credit, was last seen as Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps.
Julian Batstone, is new to Wick, coming to us from Adur Theatre Company but for Tony Brownings this is his 37th Wick involvement.
Peter Joyce makes a welcome return to the Barn stage after a 26 year absence.
Sarah Frost, was recently in Season’s Greetings and we are delighted to have the experienced actress Annabelle Heath making her first appearance as a Wick member.
About the Authors
Anthony Jay has enjoyed a distinguished career as a writer, broadcaster and producer. He was the founder and editor of the BBC’s legendary “Tonight” programme.
Jonathan Lynn’s career spans more than four decades as a director, screenwriter, producer and actor as well as an author and novelist. His many movies include Nuns On The Run (which he also wrote) and My Cousin Vinnie.
Publicity #1: Yes, Prime Minister
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: February 26 2015 issue – page 36
Correspondent: Elaine Hammond
Text Header: “Updated stage version of TV political comedy”
A POPULAR political comedy is coming to Southwick, two months ahead of the General Election. Yes, Prime Minister, the popular 1980s TV series, has been updated by writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn with a new satirical take on Whitehall. The won the Best New Comedy award in 2011 and had three sell-out West End seasons and rave reviews.
Wick Theatre Company will present Yes, Prime Minister at the Barn Theatre from Wednesday, March 11 to Saturday, March 14.
Rosemary Bouchy, from the company’s publicity team, said: “This hilarious new adventure set in modern times, should be great fun with a General Election just two months away. Director John Garland has assembled a terrific cast.”
Prime Minister Jim Hacker and his Cabinet Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, are in deep trouble due to the collapsing euro and unpopular austerity measures. Sir Humphrey has a plan to get the Government back in favour, by securing oil supplies to the UK and solve the financial crisis in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, he has not been entirely honest about the implications and, to make matters worse, the Foreign Minister of Kumranistan makes some unusual demands to ensure his co-operation. The study at Chequers is the setting for an eventful evening.
Trying to sort out a number of tricky situations puts Jim, Sir Humphrey and Bernard, principal private secretary, into an ever-increasing spin. Jim’s new ally, special policy adviser Claire Sutton, and the Ambassador to Kumranistan are both called in to help.
The BBC is planning a programme likely to show the Prime Minister in an unfavourable light, so the director general is summoned as well. Finally, Jim is grilled by BBC presenter Simone Chester in a live broadcast, but can he come up with the words?
Dave Peaty, fresh from his success as Uncle Harvey in Seasons Greetings, will play Jim while Guy Steddon, with two best actor and one best supporting actor awards to his credit, is Sir Humphrey. Julian Batstone, an actor new to Wick, is Bernard and the highly-experienced Tony Brownings is Ambassador to Kumranistan. Peter Joyce makes a welcome retune to the Barn stage to play the Director General of the BBC.
There are two women in the cast – Sarah Frost, who made memorable appearances in Cherry Orchard and Seasons Greetings plays Claire Sutton and experienced actress Annabelle Heath, in her first rôle with the company, is Simone Chester.
Performances start at 7.45pm. Tickets £11 from the box office on 01273 59094 or www.wicktheatre.co.uk
Publicity #2: Yes, Prime Minister
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: March 5 2015 issue – page 44
Correspondent: Phil Hewitt
Text Header: “Yes, Southwick!”
They’re back as Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey go on the campaign trail again. Wick Theatre Company is bringing the classic TV comedy duo to the Barn Theatre for a new adventure set in modern times.
Spokeswoman Rosemary Bouchy said: “The popular 1980s TV series has been updated by writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn with a new satirical take on Whitehall that won the Best New Comedy award in 2011, plus three sell-out West End seasons and rave reviews.”
Performances of Yes, Prime Minister run from Wednesday, March 11 – Saturday, March 14, at the Barn Theatre, Southwick at 7.45pm. Tickets £11 from the box office on 01273 59094 or www.wicktheatre.co.uk
Prime Minister Jim Hacker and his Cabinet Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, are in deep trouble due to the collapsing euro and unpopular austerity measures, but Sir Humphrey has a plan to secure oil supplies to the UK and solve the financial crisis in one fell swoop. “Unfortunately, he hasn’t been entirely honest about the implications, and to make matters worse, the Foreign Minister of Kumranistan makes some unusual demands to ensure his co-operation.” Rosemary explains.
“Jim’s study at Chequers is the setting for an eventful evening. Trying to sort out a number of tricky situations puts Jim, Sir Humphrey and Bernard, his principal Private Secretary, into an ever-increasing spin. Jim’s new advisor Claire Sutton, and the Ambassador to Kumranistan are both called in to help.”
Rosemary added: “Director John Garland has assembled a terrific cast. Dave Peaty, fresh from his success as Uncle Harvey in Seasons Greetings, will play Jim while Guy Steddon – with two Best Actor and one Best Supporting Actor awards to his credit – is Sir Humphrey. Julian Batstone [an actor new to Wick] is Bernard. The highly-experienced Tony Brownings is the Ambassador to Kumranistan, and Peter Joyce plays the Director General of the BBC.”
Review #1: Yes, Prime Minister
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: March 19 2015 issue – page 36
Reviewer: Elaine Hammond
Text Header: “Political satire from ’80s gets modern twist”
WITH the General Election fast approaching, Wick theatre Company found the perfect play for their spring production. Director John Garland said Yes Prime Minister was an obvious choice, bringing it to the Barn Theatre stage in Southwick last week.
The main characters from the award-winning television series were still there – Sir Humphrey Appleby, Jim Hacker and Bernard Woolley – but Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn had updated the story to include much more modern references. The Wick cast recreated this well-known trio in their own style, while retaining key features like Sir Humphrey’s well-known, long-winded statements and manipulation.
In this story, Prime Minister Jim has a new special advisor, Claire Sutton, which rather pushes Sir Humphrey from the foreground and the position of control he prefers. Sarah Frost was commanding in the adviser role and a joy to watch, talking charge in a crisis and adding to the humour when it turned out her advice may not have been the best after all.
Julian Batstone gave a good performance as the slightly nervy principle private secretary, Bernard. The very wordy, complicated script did appear to have him stumbling over a few lines, although some of that seemed to be for effect,
Guy Steddon, meanwhile, was in full control as Sir Humphrey, getting those verbose passages out without any problems. Part of the comedy is the fact that we the audience have about as much understanding of what he is going on about as the Prime Minister, which is not a lot! In this case, the plot took us through topics like global warming, moral dilemmas, oil, illegal immigrants and currency, perhaps trying to encompass too many aspects at once and at times making it over-complicated and a little too long.
Making up the third of the key three was David Peaty, who was equally effective in his role as Jim Hacker. There were some lovely subtle touches, like his regular visits to the drinks cabinet, hidden in a globe, and hiding under the desk when it all got too much.
The second half became quite farcical with some ridiculous goings on in a bid to satisfy the whims of the Kumranistan Ambassador. But there was a nice little performance from Annabelle Heath as the BBC presenter Simone Chester, who chose to employ an accent for the role. And there were some clever little digs at the BBC in the script, too.
For the set, Mr Garland said he had given the backstage a big challenge and they had risen magnificently to the occasion. It is true that there were some good aspects in the set but I found the mismatched sofa and chair distracting, thinking there surely would have been a bit better furniture in the study at Chequers.
Review #2: Yes, Prime Minister
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: March 29 2015
Reviewer: Barrie Jerram
Turning again to stage adaptations of successful TV series, Wick Theatre Company take on this updated political satire where Sir Humphrey’s cosy Whitehall world is moved to Chequers and, in the space of a night, chaos rules.
The presence of a special advisor sees a shift in the balance of power between Humphrey and Prime Minister, Jim Hacker, who facing various crises believes a solution lies with an oil deal with Kumranistan – but it comes with a moral dilemma.
As the farcical situations develop the audience is treated to some wonderfully witty and wicked lines full of biting political cynicism but they also have to contend with a verbose and, at times, turgid script.
Conciseness, successful in the TV episodes, is lost in this expansion. However the cast work hard and manage to rise above the defects in the writing.
David Peaty’s Hacker is a mixture of bewildered incompetence and cunning survival instinct. Sir Humphrey is in the safe hands of Guy Steddon who delivers a nicely understated performance and manages to cope well with those marathon obfuscatory explanations.
There are also notable performances from Julian Batstone as the put upon Bernard and from Tony Brownings and Sarah Frost.
Publication: N.O.D.A – National Operatic and Dramatic Association
Reviewer: Lance Milton – Regional representative for South East Region District 1 – Mid Sussex
The halls of Chequers and the Prime Minister’s private study are frenetically buzzing as we are introduced to the plot line of this Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn penned comedy, based on their classic TV series which starred Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne.
Our cast, the leaders of the British nation, are in preparation for a morally bankrupt deal with the Foreign Minister of fictional Soviet break-away state of Kumranistan. Of course this would never happen in real life would it? Actually that is the brilliance of the Wick Theatre Company’s timing, with a superb reminder of just what we are NOT voting for in May, just in time for the media frenzy to begin in the run up to the real up-coming general election.
John Garland’s direction and staging of the great material lent itself perfectly to the dry and understated intention of the writing team. You can only get comedy like this across well when it is beautifully sincere and inconspicuous in its delivery. The cast all devoured this challenge with characters as devious as they were sanguine. The lion’s share of the lines are split fairly evenly between the four principal characters, headed by a most plausible and actually quite congenial David Peaty as Prime Minister, Jim Hacker. Julian Batstone was a suitably anxious and disingenuous Bernard Woolley, the PM’s Private Secretary and brought an affable edge to the role that veered away beautifully from the expected stereotype portrayed by Derek Fowlds in the BBC version. Sarah Frost was a wonderfully innate Claire Sutton, the PM’s special policy advisor.
However the stand out performance, somewhat because of the gift of superb script writing in places but certainly as much because of his exceptional stage presence and comic timing, was that of Guy Steddon as Sir Humphrey Appleby who deceitfully squirmed his way through the piece with the comprehensive narcissism one loves and expects from this character. Annabelle Heath, Bob Ryder, Tony Brownings and Peter Joyce all supported with first class cameo appearances which supplemented the realism rather than detracting.
Technically the superb onstage performances were supported very well indeed with fabulous set, the Prime Minister’s office, designed by Judith Berrill and created by Nigel Goldfinch, Carl Gray, Gary Walker, Dave Collis, Dave Comber, Sue Chaplin, Sheila Neesham and Margaret Davy and allegedly painted right up to the wire with last minute assistance by the director himself! Wardrobe [Maggi Pierce & Cherry Fraser] was perfect for the period and setting of the play as were properties by Anita Shipton and Di Tidzer. Martin Oakley led Hannah Talbot and Kieran Pollard in the lighting design which was simple but effective similarly to Bob Ryder and Brian Jones’ sound.
I shared a thoroughly enjoyable first visit to the company as their new NODA rep with an appreciative audience and fabulous company in the form of WTC representative Rosemary Bouchy.