In an of course entirely fictional, exaggeratedly apocalyptic vision, Coalition presents a government at breaking point with a flapping Deputy Prime Minister fumbling from one bad decision to the next in a flurry of messed-up Lib Dem policies. Awaiting his first meeting in six months with the Tory PM to whom he is “handcuffed”, DPM Matt Cooper has back benchers defecting every way he turns, an energy policy that could turn things explosive, and a catalogue of panics and nuisances that threaten to damage his sacred ambitious career.
Coalition is a gem of political satire which, like Nicked (a.k.a. Nick Clegg the hip-hop musical!), proves that the hung parliament and subsequent coalition, whatever its effect on the actual state of our country, can be overshadowed by the wealth of fun-poking entertainment it has provided for audiences. Sophisticated and grown-up comedy with a silly edge, Coalition is packed to the rafters with ingenious one-liners, so seamlessly dotted in the script it takes a moment to notice the joke.
In the title role, Thom Tuck creates a frazzled and paranoid Deputy Prime Minster who shockingly lacks a touch of tact and human understanding. Often portrayed as the playground bully who is by no means as revered as he thinks, Tuck has a real versatility in his acting that allows his character to reflect a more three-dimensional person than the flat-pack politicians mocked by much political satire. Phil Jupitus as the pervy and flamboyant Sir Francis Whitford MP is also a real highlight of the show, his illusive entrances and casual remarks that “you can always trust the Tories” sending off ricochets of laughter throughout the audience. Jo Caulfield’s understated portrayal of the Lib Dem Chief Whip also adds some of the driest comedy of the show, her brains and sharp tongue making her something like a witty Angela Merkel of Britain (just imagine).
At times, Coalition does threaten to be a bit exclusionary and elitist in its humour, occasionally bemusing me with very specific jokes, the reference of which I just couldn’t grasp. Yet, for all my own political ignorance, Coalition is nonetheless a corker of a play that is a must for all who enjoy razor sharp satire, packed intelligent theatre and the exploits of Nick Clegg.
Coalition is at Pleasance Dome until 26th August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.