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‘Party Games!’ Not Always a Great Laugh



‘A week is a long time in politics’, former PM Harold Wilson allegedly said.


With the UK hurtling towards a general election, that’s truer than ever.


Which presents a real challenge for the creatives and cast of an onstage political comedy that needs to remain relevant and relatable.


The recent tour of ‘Drop the Dead Donkey’ showed what could be done with clever daily script updates, keeping current affairs references at the sharpest end of cutting edge.


‘Party Games!’, now at the Theatre Royal Windsor, then on tour across the UK, is written by political adviser Michael McManus, and takes a broader brush to explore the state of the nation post-election in 2026, with the prospect of a hung parliament, squabbling rival factions and data insights provided by Cambridge Analytica wannabe device ‘Medianne’.


Matthew Cottle plays the new PM ‘we won, but we didn’t win?’ John Waggner to perfection, delivering some excellent lines with a winning combination of amiable bullishness underpinned by steely resolve. His Deputy PM, usually Debra Stephenson, was played by understudy Erica Tavares-Kouassi on press night, as a feisty female Birmingham MP, and earning a well-earned round of applause at the curtain call, for her performance.


Jason Callender and Krissi Bohn as aspiring Chief of Staff Luke, and senior civil servant, Candice, brought real authenticity to their roles. Natalie Dunne evoked the spirit of ‘Motherland’ actor Lucy Punch as ‘not Carrie Antoinette’ political wife, Anne, with some excellent comic timing throughout, including a nice piece of business involving a lint roller.


William Oxborrow excels in multiple roles, bringing both deadly dry wit and PM-themed arachnids to the stage.


The action comes thick and fast: on press night, the audience missed a couple of great lines, including one about cyclists jumping red lights, due to speed of delivery. Some theatregoers in the seats around us mentioned they hadn’t caught parts of the play for the same reason.


Something to think about as the cast bed into the rest of the run, we hope. ‘Party Games!’ is an enjoyable romp through the first days of a new government, with policy development, crisis communications and Machiavellian manifestos at its heart. It carries a 12+ rating and runs for 2hrs and 10 minutes including a 20-minute interval.


If you live close by but haven’t discovered the Theatre Royal Windsor, do go and support your local regional venue. Everyone from their courteous door staff to their regular clientele are chatty, warm and welcoming – every visit’s a treat.


 ‘Party Games!’ runs until May 18, with an Audio Described Performance at the 2.30pm performance on May 16. To book and for full accessibility information visit https://theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk/

The show continues its run at;


Cambridge Arts Theatre, Cambridge, June 4-8, https://www.cambridgeartstheatre.com/

Connaught Theatre, Worthing, June 12–15 https://wtm.uk/events/party-games/

Theatre Royal Bath, June 18–22, https://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/events/party-games/

Malvern Theatres, Malvern, June 25–29, https://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/

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