Party Games

The Conservatives and Labour have let the country down—if you can believe it! So here comes a brand new, three-month-old party called One Nation! 

Set in a not-so-hard-to-be-fictional 2026, the One Nation party has been voted into power with an ex-conservative and reality TV star as the Prime Minister. 

The newly elected Prime Minister John, played by Matthew Cottle, plays a familiar bumbling fool who cannot decide or develop a coherent sentence. It is brilliant. Aside from a string of fart jokes, which it could do without, Cottle creates an image of Parliament that is scarily accurate. His reliance on advisors while being determined they are all wrong is a terrifying yet somehow believable insight into the inner workings of Number 10.

Written by Michael McManus, an ex-political aide turned playwright who said he is "making more of a difference by writing an entertaining but thoughtful play" than being a Tory backbencher, his knowledge of Parliament is first-hand. McManus has written a thought-provoking and entertaining play that is striking and hilarious. Covering various topics, from COVID-19 to AI, Party Games is a thrashing of UK politics. The script is filled with back to back puns and references to tickle everyone in the audience. 

Deputy PM Lisa, played by Debra Stephenson, is a classic opponent who disagrees with everything the PM puts forward but eventually works something out. Stephenson also serves as the voice of Medianne, bringing her classic vocal talents to the stage. As a stern and powerful woman, Stephenson commands the stage with great presence.

As the candid Candice, Krissi Bohn has the only sense of reason in this scarily accurate and comical depiction of Westminster. While remaining a civil servant, she advised well and maintained a strong sense of blind loyalty to the job.

William Oxborrow impresses in many roles and leaves the audience in stitches with his extravagant facial expressions and the scene-stealing spider cage he carries.

As the antagonist determined to derail the system and revolutionise the UK, Ryan Early, as Seth, was arrogant and self-righteous. As the creator of AI voice assistant and data collector Medianne, Seth was determined to use data and twist it in whatever way possible to get his way. He was often keen to publish fake news or potentially orchestrate public scenes of disruption to get his manifesto passed. Somehow a political figure who owns big tech companies and utilises data to get his own way seems familiar.

As a touring production, the set, designed by Francis O'Connor, is inspired and impressively effective. The design creates a setting that is patriotic and familiar. The impressively practical set and ability to move, hide or reveal furnishings will bode well from theatre to theatre and provide a stunning stage.

While some scenes felt quiet without the assistance of head mics, Chris Davey's lighting design was thorough and linked well with the AI assistance bot Medianne. The creation of TV and Press camera flashes was well-marked and made scene transitions sleek and smooth. All credit to director Joanna Read, who has created a well-oiled and smooth display of egotistic, bumbling baffoons.

As a play heavily reliant on politics, thankfully, it doesn't bury itself in political jargon as it actively questions whether the politicians know anything about those either. Instead, it is a raucous night out of classic British humour. It evokes the freedom of speech, criticism and flatulence that the UK is known for. A strong and stable night out for all!

This show was reviewed on the 9th May 2024 at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford where it runs until the 11th May 2024.  Tickets available here: Party Games! | Yvonne Arnaud Theatre (

The show then heads out on tour, so check your local theatre listings for details.

Review written by Ryan Lenney


Photo credit: Craig Fuller

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