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Pardon Me, Prime Minister - Theatre Royal Windsor

Published by: Kate Braxton on 27th May 2015 | View all blogs by Kate Braxton



We're just embarking upon a six week repertory run at Windsor Theatre Royal, kicking off with Edward Taylor and John Graham’s satirical farce Pardon Me, Prime Minister, writers of the BBC radio hit The Men From The Ministry. And I adore the idea of getting rep back into our historical theatres. But this might be a slightly controversial stance after last night's first night in the cabinet office sited in Windsor.

Plot: The Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. George Venables and his Chancellor are preparing a puritanical budget, taxing amusements such as bingo, gambling and night-clubs. On the afternoon before its presentation, however, George is ‘outed’ as the father of pretty young Shirley, the result of a post-party conference night many years ago. But is he? All is not what it seems. We have a nod to Gordon Brown in the Chancellor Rt Hon Hector Crammond and Rodney Campbell acts as deferential Parliamentary Private Secretary whose personal complications are added into the mix.

And sadly it's a thin plot. Farce for farce’s sake. Despite the odd reveal, the knicker-drops cause no jaw-dropping moments, and at last night’s opening, little more than a few titters teetered in the house.

We remain in the Prime Minister’s study at 10 Downing Street throughout the play across four scenes, which set scene one as a Spring afternoon, then five minutes later, then fifteen minutes later and finishing with ten minutes later. But quite honestly, this production provides 2 hours of wishing it was ‘laters’.

Our PM is played in a lanky Cleese-eque fashion by Jonathan Ray, jerking and spine-flipping awkwardly from door to door. Plenty of doors, as expected. Sarah Kempton’s Shirley is quite a fun watch, as is Nova Skipp’s Dora, the PM’s wife. But there it stops, I’m afraid.

You can’t excuse a professional company for not appreciating the timing required to make farce work effectively, and this doesn’t. It’s stilted and uncomfortable to watch. The actors should be virtually overlapping each other’s words to keep an appropriate tempo. But it was dis-engagingly staccato, with waaaaaay too many dialogue gaps, and it felt under-rehearsed.

Ray Cooney this isn’t, so I’d run for your life and wait for next week’s show, which I hope will flow, when we’ll get Sweet Revenge.

Running Tuesday 26 - Sat 30 May 2015

Theatre Royal Windsor, 32 Thames Street, Windsor, West Berkshire SL4 1PS
Box Office: 01753 853888



  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 3 years ago
    Thanks, Clare. One of the great things about Rep performances is that they are like buses ... if you don't like this one, another will be along in a minute! :)
  • Kate Braxton
    by Kate Braxton 3 years ago
    Clare didn't write that, so we ought to exonerate her from blame :-)
  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 3 years ago
    Oops, schoolboy error, Kate. Sincere apologies!
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