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Labour councillor takes satirical swipe at Con-Dem coalition in play

PUBLISHED: 06:17 22 May 2012

Phill Jupitus as Sir Francis Whitford (left) and Thom Tuck as Matt Cooper in Coalition

Phill Jupitus as Sir Francis Whitford (left) and Thom Tuck as Matt Cooper in Coalition

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A Labour councillor is set to rile Liberal Democrat colleagues by staging a play about their imagined demise – and he has bagged top comedian Phill Jupitus to take a starring role.

Islington councillor Robert Khan has for months been scribbling away on his satirical look at the dying days of the Con-Dems.

Now the play, entitled Coalition, is going on stage at the Pleasance theatres in Islington and Edinburgh.

Mr Jupitus, best known for being a regular on BBC2’s Never Mind the Buzzcocks, will be taking the role of slightly sinister old school Tory MP Sir Francis Whitford.

Coalition, written from the perspective of embattled Lib-Dem leader and deputy prime minister Matt Cooper, is set in 2014 when the government only has six months to run.

The Lib-Dem leader has not spoken to his Conservative prime minister for months, the economy has flat-lined and MPs are threatening to defect.

Bunhill ward councillor Robert Khan, who co-wrote the play with theatre director and former university friend Tom Salinsky, said: “We were very pleased to get Phill. We sent him the script on spec and he was up for it. His character is a Tory version of Peter Mandelson crossed with Boris Johnson.”

Also taking to the stage will be comedian Jo Caulfield, who has written for Graham Norton and Ruby Wax.

Cllr Khan is confident that the play will attract laughs from all ends of the political spectrum – but just hopes that the real coalition Government does not collapse too soon.

He said: “The Lib-Dems in Islington have got a sense of humour. Certain members have said they will be coming along so I hope they enjoy it. It’s not a serious attempt to rile them. It’s an attempt to do some old-fashioned satire. I am in an ironic position, as a Labour councillor, of hoping that the coalition lasts until September 1.

‘‘Then I will be hoping it collapses.”

The play has been met with mixed reactions from Cllr Khan’s Islington colleagues.

Cllr Catherine West, leader of Labour-run Islington Council, who has made Cllr Khan the borough’s arts champion, said: “There will be a few laughs in it. I am going to get tickets myself.”

But Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Lib-Dem opposition on Islington Council, observed wryly that Robert Khan is “ideally placed to write a farce”.

He said: “Lots of us in opposition have watched the Labour councillors and noticed the correlation between the farce on stage and the farce in the council chamber.”

Coalition will be previewing at the Pleasance theatre in North Road, Islington, on July 27 and 28 before transferring to the Pleasance Dome at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.

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