By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
(Although the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the British officials here insist that, since so little has changed in the running of Russia, why should the country's name?)
The satire is the stuff of stock comedy dating back to the ancient Romans: The leadership has only a vague awareness of what's going on, as the prime minister is kept largely in the dark by his underlings (Dakin Matthews as the cabinet secretary, and a beautifully wiry, high-principled private secretary played by Jefferson Mays).
The central machination is a demand by the Kumranistani leader for three prostitutes to participate in a sex orgy at the prime minister's country residence, where the action unfolds on Simon Higlett's gorgeous set. This demand — in exchange for the face-saving loan — sets off a chain reaction of moral and practical crises: Can three hookers be airlifted from London and snuck in? If so, where can they be found? Maybe Scotland Yard's vice squad can help? Right. Fingernails are chewed as staff scrambles to keep all this out of the Daily Mail.
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The digs at the BBC are sort of delicious, as it slides down the same slippery slope as our NPR. And the performances — also including a terrific, wry turn by Tara Summers as the prime minister's special policy adviser — are very well calibrated.
Not so sure about the comedy's concluding joke that global warming is a hoax, an unproven, money-making contrivance by international P.C. police. There will be international commissions and industries to change things, while nothing will be accomplished, the play quips, because the problem isn't real.
Oh? Has nothing really truly changed since the days of Roman comedy?
NEVA | Written and directed by Guillermo Calderón, translated from Spanish by Adrea Thome | Presented by South Coast Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse and Center Theatre Group | Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City | transferring to South Coast Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse | scr.org; ljp.org
YES, PRIME MINISTER | By Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn | Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Wstwd.; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; through July 14 | (310) 208-5454 | geffenplayhouse.com