Comedy gets actorly: writer Robert Khan on satirising the Coalition for Jupitus, Tuck and Caulfield
Andrew Mickel5 July 2012
Phill Jupitus, Thom Tuck and Jo Caulfield are all signed up for political comedy Coalition: its writer tells us more...
We've banged on quite a lot about how suprising it is that there aren't more comedians tackling politics directly. Well, here are lots acting out a tale about a Lib Dem deputy prime minister in late 2014. The coalition government has only six months left to run, but the Conservative prime minister hasn't spoken to his deputy in months, the economy has flat-lined and his MPs are threatening to defect. The notNick Clegg has to make a series of last desperate gambles to save the party he loves...
The play is written by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky, and Robert – himself a Labour councillor in Islington – answered a few of our questions below. First, let's see Thom as a worryingly convincing politician:
What's the best comparison point of political comedy for what the audience should expect? Anything like the Thick Of It or Yes Minister?
Coalition is a political comedy with elements of both satire and farce. Yes, Minister looks at the relationship between ministers and civil servants while The Thick Of It brilliantly explores the more minor players in the political drama - so you wouldn't see the character of the PM or DPM in the flesh, for example. Coalition is about the relationship between a fictional Lib Dem leader and his senior coalition 'colleagues' - although as [director of the Pleasance] Anthony Alderson rightly says, it's about a deputy prime minister, not the Deputy Prime Minister. So runs our defence, anyway.
Are you surprised no-one from comedy has really done something like this on the coalition yet?
A little yes. I think as writers we assumed that we wouldn't be the only ones seeking to explore the conflict between two political parties with deeply opposed ideologies coming together and trying to bury their obvious differences for - as at least they would argue - the greater good. I read recently that Peter Morgan (writer of The Queen and The Deal) had said that no-one would attempt to dramatise the relationships at the top of the Coalition because the personalities were too bland - a point also echoed by David Frost. I hope we can prove them wrong. And if we can't, at least we can blame the bloody Government. Again.
It's a great cast of comedians involved - was it an easy sell to get them on board?
Thanks. We were very pleased to assemble this terrific cast. Many of them cover politics and current affairs in their own acts and other work and so were interested in the subject matter. It was a case of sending them the script and seeing if they would be interested - and we were delighted to get so many of them on board. For the rest, my endless sobbing, begging and bawling eventually wore them down. They are kind people and they don't like to see a forty one year old cry.
Coalition is at the Pleasance Dome, 1-26 August at 2pm. Get tickets at the Ed Fringe site here and visit the play's site here.
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