Published: January 27, 2012
by ANDREW JOHNSON
NOT many playwrights can boast a sell-out West End show. But Labour councillor Robert Khan managed to pull the trick off at the weekend when his play about tensions in the heart of the coalition government ran for three nights at the Leicester Square Theatre.
It may have only been a read-through of a work in development by Cllr Khan and his writing partner, Tom Salinsky, but the script was good enough to persuade TV actor Diana Quick to take part, along with rising comedy star Thom Tuck. And it packed the punters into the venue’s studio theatre, including Labour MP Emily Thornberry, who took her seat on Friday.
The play, called Coalition, imagines the dying days of the coalition government as Lib Dem leader Matt Cooper – based on Nick Clegg – tries to stop his party melting down.
It is a witty, fast-moving satire and makes an excellent self-serving Cooper, while Quick was perfect as the formidably competent party secretary.
Ms Quick became involved after meeting the comedian Deborah Frances-White, who is married to Mr Salinsky at Edinburgh. “They sent me the script and asked me if I’d do it,” said the actor, who is best known for her role as Lady Julia Flyte in Brideshead Revisited. “I thought it was a very promising script indeed. They have to do some rehearsed readings because you have to know how it sounds.
“I do think it’s very funny.”
Mr Salinsky and Cllr Khan, who represents Bunhill ward and chairs the planning committee, say they will now do some rewrites before taking the play to the Edinburgh Festival and looking for a producer.