Party Games! Review

Windsor Theatre Royal – until 18th May 2024

Reviewed by Liberty Noke


Party Games! Is a new political comedy written by Michael McManus who has previously worked alongside politicians Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher so he is well placed to write about politics. The play is set in the year 2026 and opens with the newly formed “One Nation” party winning the election although they are 6 seats short of a majority. We see characters John (Matthew Cottle), Luke (Jason Callender) and Anne (Debra Stephenson) receive the news before being rushed into 10 Downing Street.

The staging is simple with the Prime minister’s desk stage right and a big front door to number 10 at the back. There are also doors to either side of the stage. The background of the stage is simple grey wallpaper which is made to reassemble the union flag.

In number 10 we meet deputy prime minister Lisa (Erica Tavares-Koussi), Candice (Krissi Bohn) and the prime ministers advisor Seth (Ryan Earley). Early plays the role in quite an over the top manner he has a lot more energy and is dressed more casually than the other character which really makes him stand out. He is overly enthusiastic always bouncing about the stage. He is obviously trying to influence the prime ministers decisions. Cottle plays John the prime minister who appears to be completely unqualified for the job- an obvious caricature of recent prime ministers and he does have a lot of funny one-liners which did make the audience chuckle. However in a political comedy such as this it would have been nice to have some cleverer more complex humour. There are other obvious references to recent politics for example Liz Truss and the Lettuce so the writing does play to people’s knowledge of recent events and the audience did find this funny.

There was an instance where Candice (Krissi Bohn) corrects the pronunciation of her name as she is of Caribbean decent so uses that pronunciation and another moment where a protester is mentioned and their pronouns are they/them. Both of these are very relevant at the moment and could have been bigger moments in the play.

There is an Alexa style technology introduced called Medianne voiced by Debra Stephenson and this does add humour to the piece as we can all relate to being frustrated by technology but again a lot of it’s jokes where obvious and child-like.

While I did enjoy this play and commend the performance especially that of Erica Tavares-Koussi who understudies the role of Lisa and was announced at the last minute, I feel like there was a missed opportunity here to make a larger political statement or at least write some more complex jokes. A lot of the jokes were simple and while the audience did laugh, not all of the jokes landed as I imagine they were intended. I also found the plot to be lacking substance. Overall an enjoyable play with some funny moments.