Phill Jupitus and Thom Tuck on their Fringe 2012 theatre project ‘Coalition’.
To be fair, the unusual and uneasy alliance of Tories and Lib Dems in government at a UK level has probably lasted longer than many expected, though as the Olympics pass and another British General Election appears on the horizon, that coalition is going to be tested more than ever. Where will they be in 2014? And assuming the Tories believe they could secure a majority government next time round, what will that mean for Nick Clegg and his Lib Dems? In the made-up world of new play ‘Coalition’, it’s fictional Lib Dem chief Matt Cooper who is facing those challenges, with comedic results.
“I think with the real Coalition, everybody involved has always been fully aware that it’s not a case of ‘if’ but ‘when’”, reckons Phill Jupitus, one of the cast of comedians appearing in this new satirical production. “Clegg tarnished a once great political party just so he could get his own seat at the big boy’s table. The Coalition was not about getting the Lib Dems involved, it was about fulfilling his own ambitions, and that’s just sad. The repercussions of what he’s done will impact on the Lib Dems for years. The plot of ‘Coalition’ is one of a number of ludicrous scenarios that could actually be played out in real life. But I dare say that truth may well turn out to be stranger than fiction when it does all kick off”.
Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Thom Tuck takes the Clegg-based role in the play. “I was asked by [co-writer] Tom [Salinsky] to do a read-through of the play, and I really enjoyed playing the part”, he says of his initial involvement in the play. “I don’t know if I would have committed to a whole Fringe worth of a play like this without having felt it from the inside, but I really did”.
Jo Caulfield, Simon Evans and Alistair Barrie are among the other comedy names set to appear in the show, all living up to that Edinburgh tradition of stand-ups doing acting. “Any stand up comedian who’s any good can act” reckons Phill, “it’s just part of your tool kit”. Tuck agrees, “there’s a continuum between stand-up, sketch and a comedic play. Though I suppose the biggest difference is trying to have a believable, yet funny, character that sustains for the whole show. That’s never an issue with stand-up because you are far more yourself. And in sketch, it’s caricature after lunatic after silly voice”.
But it’s Edinburgh that seems to frequently first bring out any acting bugs deep inside our favourite stand-ups. Admitting that few comedians would be attracted to Fringe theatre by the money, Jupitus reckons: “The Festival is a good place to experiment, which is why people are often drawn to do different things. There’s less pressure. If you feel ‘pressure’ in Edinburgh, you’re doing it wrong”.
‘Coalition’ was performed at Pleasance Dome at Fringe 2012.