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Perfectly paced political satire gets my vote

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Robbie Godfrey and James Knell in a scene from Yes, Prime Minister (Photograph supplied)

This updated stage version of the 1980s BBC comedy classic Yes, Prime Minister had the packed Daylesford Theatre hapless with laughter.

Director Nicola Flood and producer Rebekah Nebard’s Bermuda Musical & Dramatic Society show, which opened on Thursday night, was superbly cast and perfectly paced.

There were times when the show veered into near slapstick farce but writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn’s verbal brilliance has lost none of its lustre in the 30 years since the original series.

Subtle differences in the personalities of the main characters make this new version somehow more interesting.

Will Kempe’s prime minister Jim Hacker comes over as more distinguished and assertive, prone to frustrated rage and less naive than Paul Eddington’s; but then, he’s been in office longer than Tony Blair and is still motivated by the same political egoism.

Robbie Godfrey as his cabinet secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby — the epitome of senior Whitehall smoothness — is the master of a brilliant, delightful new line of lofty, contentless, self-serving waffle that had us gasping with laughter.

James Knell as principal private secretary Bernard Woolley adds a sort of resigned lugubriousness to the role but has also enhanced his ability to draw on his classics education to make laconic asides full of ludicrous and inappropriate pedantry.

Brooke Burfitt, last seen as tragic abuse victim in Trailer Trash Wife is cast in a role which is its polar opposite, that of Claire Sutton, special policy adviser. Hard, cynical and ruthless to the point of criminality, her character as loyal mistress of spin, soundbites, lies and cover-up artistry is utterly convincing.

As with all BMDS productions, attention to fine detail and excellent technical and production support give the show an underlying, solid professionalism.

The set, the oak-panelled prime minister’s study at Chequers with a picture window on to the Buckinghamshire countryside, is completely authentic. All technical equipment, including a live television interview, operates faultlessly. There are even subtly believable caricatures of the main performers on the programme. A great evening out.

Yes, Prime Minister runs until Saturday at 8pm at Daylesford Theatre. Tickets are available on ptix.bm and from the BMDS box office one hour before performances. Telephone 292-084 for information

James Knell in a scene from Yes, Prime Minister (Photograph supplied)
Brooke Burfitt (File photograph)
Will Kempe (File photograph)