CUPPERS: Coalition (Keble)

Wed 7th November 2012

reviews

Thea Bradbury

at 09:31 on 10th Nov 2012

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I would like to be able to offer a balanced and robust critique of Keble's 'Coalition'. However, after taking notes attentively the whole way through, the biggest flaw I can find is that this quip-a-minute satire of the Con-Dem coalition was restricted to half an hour's running time. Set in the office of a hapless Deputy Prime Minister more concerned with publicity than policy, the witty script is complemented by superbly convincing acting: from the blustering DPM to his cynical PA, and the principled Energy Secretary to the sleazy Chief Whip, there's no weak link in this excellent cast.

The stage is cluttered with files, coat racks, golf clubs and oranges, allowing for near-constant stage business and a few slapstick gags that, surprisingly for such a verbose play, were funny rather than jarring. Somewhere around the halfway mark, my reviewer's notebook became a blur of one-liners, the only one of which now legible is the declaration that Britain is the 'motherfucker of all parliaments'.

If wit is 'Coalition's greatest triumph, it is often its greatest weakness. The jokes are delivered at such a frantic pace that it can sometimes be difficult to understand what the actors are saying, and the endless pursuit of humour in fact weakens the play's satirical intentions: it's so busy being funny that it never pauses to reflect on the serious issues that it raises.

However, it is perhaps unfair to demand in-depth social criticism of a play that has already been cut down to fit the Cuppers format. Instead, suffice it to say that 'Coalition' distracted me from an essay crisis in the best possible way, and is one of the funniest pieces of drama I've seen in months.

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