There is a certain cringey charm in his dad jokes and bluster, but we quickly learn that Alexander Collimore is a man barely holding himself together with positive affirmations and posturing. Once considered the Prime Minister’s right hand man, with a bright political future of his own on the horizon, he’s been laying low for a few years—ever since the PM’s fatal accident. Now, to set the record straight, he is giving a tell-all interview for a high-profile magazine.
Written and directed by lawyer-turned-thespian, Jennie Brodski, Deputy Prime Minister Collimore is a political satire that doesn’t have a particularly deep bite, though it is sturdy and consistently entertaining.
Essentially a monologue, the script does falls back on a somewhat banal pattern where the interviewer’s questions are made clear to us by working them bluntly into his phrasing. This is a stilted, tiresome device, but Jeffrey Knight is a charismatic performer and his delivery smooths it out nicely. And the scenes themselves are quick and punchy.
Collimore paints colourful vignettes that offer perspective into his fraught relationship with the PM (known to us only as “Julien.”) He reveals the clever initiatives and shady political maneuverings that ensured the PM’s success and popularity—an economic stimulus, a pricy war—and the barely covered-up disaster that could bring both men down.
Throughout, he shifts uncomfortably between genuine admiration and a festering resentment that his phoney smiles can’t quite disguise. Was he involved in the PM’s death? This is the question he most wants to avoid, though his smarmy, dismissive attitude is revealing.
Both Brodski and Knight excel at evocative, compelling portraiture. Knight portrays a variety of characters with whom Collimore interacts and, though not deep, they are all charismatic and engaging. I was particularly intrigued by the relationship with his whinging mother, harping at her son to claw his way out from the shadow of his popular leader.
Sharing the stage with only a rug and an upholstered chair, Knight holds our attention firmly for the full run-time (just under an hour). It’s not a particularly challenging work, but it presents a world that feels authentic and persuasive. Deputy Prime Minister Collimore is a solid, well-paced, topical comedy.