For those fans of the British political satire, Yes Minister, Frankston Theatre Group are about to make your day! Opening next month, Yes, Prime Minister (sequel to Yes, Minister) is set to enthrall the followers of the civil servants and politicians as they manipulate and wrangle their way through this truly funny farce. From the writers of the original TV series of the early to late 80’s, this staged version is as razor sharp and witty as its small screen predecessor.
Read on as director David McCall discusses all things Yes, Prime Minister.
I have been involved with FTG for over 20 years now and moved from acting to directing after the first few years. This will be the 17th play I’ve directed and I really enjoy being able to tell the story created by the playwright. “Yes, Prime Minister” was the natural follow up of “Yes, Minister”, a comedy of which I was a great fan. When the opportunity came up to direct a script specially written for the stage, I was naturally excited.
The play is a classic comedy with a touch of farce in places. It is set in modern day and although the political parties are not named, contemporary events and some famous characters are mentioned in the dialogues. This creates situations that are believable due to their content, which is what audiences expect of today’s productions. Although the setting of the play is pre-Brexit, audiences will be familiar with mention of the European Economic Community and Britain’s struggle to retain its currency.
The danger of producing a show based on a well- known series with much loved characters, is that of trying to emulate those characters. The actor is being asked to “imitate” what some other actor has created, which can be almost impossible. It is better to include familiar aspects of action and dialogue associated with the characters giving the fan something to recognize and accept that this is close to what they wanted to see. This way an actor can put some of their “stamp” on a well-loved character.
I have been very fortunate to have a cast filled with people who understand comedy and it’s timing. English comedy is very different to lots of other comedies. It can be wordy yet biting and still make the audience laugh. The English have the ability to laugh at themselves no matter how dark the situation may be. This enables the director to tell some very different stories. In nearly every English play, be it drama or tragedy, there will be an element of comedy somewhere in the action.
I have directed other genres, but comedy has an immediate result. If a piece works you hear laughter if not, silence. With dramas it’s a bit harder, the audience comments on the way out sometimes can give an inkling of how successful your direction has been. With comedies, if the audience leave smiling and filled with good humour that means you have told your story with the right timing and effect.
For those who enjoyed “Yes, Prime Minister” as a television series, the play has large elements of the series themes. As it was specially written for stage it introduces other aspects that fit the story line. For those who never watched the show this is an insight of the highs and lows of parliamentary life at the highest and funniest levels. So everyone will enjoy “Yes, Prime Minister”. (Or we’ll raise your taxes!)
July 26 – August 4
Bookings: https://www.trybooking.com/BAUZL 0437 117 881