Most of the country is still confused about Brexit and this play doesn’t help with the matter at all. Set in the year 2020 after the Tories have voted in their new leader Adam Masters (Timony Bentinck), Brexit gives us a storyline about manipulation and ever-changing political titles. In the wake of politicians quitting, Masters decides to pit both sides of the Brexit debate against each other instead of dealing with Brexit head on. Waiting for something more topical to take up the front page in the news cycle, Masters hopes that the debate between Simon Cavendish (Hal Cruttenden), Secretary of State for International Trade, and Diana Purdy (Pippa Evans), Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, doesn’t cause him problems in parliament. While no real politicians are depicted in the play, it does not take a lot of effort to see the similarities between our own government and that on stage.
While there are some clever quips in the script and the smarminess of the acting adds to the credibility of the characters, the many countless scene changes leaves the audience wondering if this is written for TV rather than stage. It feels like an episode of a longer series, where there are long and slow scenes with nothing happening in between quick scene changes – something that would work in the world of the screen, but get lost on the stage. Written by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky, there are some clever jokes in the dialogue and some thought definitely went into the symmetry of the staging, but overall there is no drive, nothing to make this a dramatic play. The stakes are not high enough, and this is Brexit we’re talking about!
Joining Cruttenden, Bentinck and Evans is Jo Caulfield as Chief EU Negotiator Helena Brandt and Mike McShane as Senior Political Consultant Paul Connell. With such a stellar cast, I was expecting more.
This painstakingly long play (running at 75 minutes) is saved only by its one-liners and gags that the audience seems to love. The play gives not too subtle nods at the current government and perhaps this is what makes it a play to watch right now. But perhaps it’ll run its course in the coming months when Brexit becomes something we do not want to laugh about.
Brexit is playing Pleasance Courtyard as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 26 August 2018. For further information and tickets, click here.
Photo: David Burns