TIMING is everything in theatre – and in politics.
So put the two together and the need to pitch things just right becomes crucial.
Huddersfield Thespians always do their homework before a big new show. But for its next project, its production team has taken its search for that winning formula to one of the most dramatic venues in the country, the Houses of Parliament.
The Thespians’ production of Steve Thompson’s comedy Whipping It Up opens at the Lawrence Batley Theatre on January 18.
And to get the timing and the atmosphere just right, the show’s director James Sykes headed for London along with Elizabeth and Dexter Booth, long-time Thespian members and both key members of many production teams.
Liz will be working with James on the show as his production assistant.
With the help of MPs Simon Reevell and Jason McCartney, they were able to see the Commons and were in for a surprise when they got into the place where the play is set, the Whips’ office.
“We were told that the Deputy Chief Whip was waiting for us in the Lobby and we were allowed to see the Whip’s Office – a rare honour,” said James.
“We met the Chief Whip, the Deputy Chief Whip and a few others. They even had a copy of the play on one of the desks so they knew what the play was all about.
“My set is a little bit more disorganised than their offices but the visit gave us a wonderful opportunity to see how they operate.
“In the play, there’s a safe where they keep all their secrets. In their office, there is a little safe but it’s where they keep the drinks not secrets!” said James.
“They were really helpful and asked if there was anything technically that we needed to know.”
The show offers a tour of the corridors of power as seen by writer Steve Thompson.
He sees politics as a world run from the office of the Government Deputy Chief Whip, which rules the country subversively. The result is hilarious comedy.
“The play is about power and rites of passage but written with great insight and humour,” said James.
In fact Steve Thompson lets his imagination run riot with his fictional characters involved in all kinds of machinations as the Whips battle to control their MPs.
There’s back-biting and all kinds of devious tactics used in Whipping It Up as both sides battle to win the vote!
If you want to cast your vote and find out who wins then the LBT main stage is where you need to be from January 18 to 22.
The Thespians have put together a group of actors who would win any selection battle.
Julie Root, who has just directed Jim Cartwright’s Two for the company, returns to the stage to play the Opposition Whip while Thespian regulars Patrick Hibbin and Alistair Cheetham take on the jobs of Deputy Government Whip and MP.
Look out too for Polly Stahelin as Maggie who purports to be a researcher but may well turn out to be something quite different.
As for whether or not any real-life MPs will desert the Commons for a spell out in the country, time will tell.
“I did leave a flyer at the House of Commons,” said James.