Meet The Cast Of ’Yes Prime Minister’

Jun 19 2019. view 237


 Amphitheatre Productions is bringing the beloved British sitcom to the Sri Lankan stage this June and we couldn’t be more excited! Directed by Jaliya Wijewardene and Yasal Ruhunage, the play will take to the stage a 7-member cast consisting of Abbasali Rozais, Minoli Peiris, Sahan Wijewardene, Kavinda Gunasekera Yasal Ruhunage, Jaliya Wijewardene and George Cooke. 

Whose playing who? 
Meet the cast to find out! 

Questions 

1. Were you a fan of the sitcom before this play? 
2. Tell us a little about your character and his/her personality?
3.The most difficult or trickiest part about playing your character?
4. Why should local theatre lovers come to watch ‘Yes, Prime Minister’?


Minoli Peiris as Clair Sutton (Political Advisor To The PM)

1. Were you a fan of the sitcom before this play? 

Sort of, I remember watching it with my family when it used to run on TV. I was too young to understand the intricacies of the humour of course, but the British sitcoms -including Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister- were a staple source of entertainment during dinner time 
 

2. Tell us a little about your character and his/her personality?

Claire Sutton is a very intelligent and relatively young university lecturer who’s now serving as Head of Policy at No. 10. Armed with a doctorate from Cambridge that’s focused on reforming the civil service, Claire is a trusted adviser and often an adversary to Sir Humphrey’s hidden agendas. She’s quick-witted, sharp and pragmatic, and is willing to push the envelope if it means getting the job done. 


3. The most difficult or trickiest part about playing your character?

Claire is often perched in the periphery ready to pull strings or guide the PM’s discussions, all while being economical with her words and actions- it’s a tricky and interesting balance bringing out the cleverness and intentions of the character within the scope she’s given.


4. Why should local theatre lovers come watch ‘Yes, Prime Minister’?

The play builds and incorporates the essence of the much-loved main characters and gives it all a very modern twist. It doesn’t fail to entertain and raise an occasional eyebrow! You will definitely enjoy it regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with Yes Prime Minister and Yes Minister, or have never seen it before. It’s got a few rather surprising plot twists that are bound to keep you in stitches!

Abbsali Rozais as Jim Hacker (British Prime Minister)

1. Were you a fan of the sitcom before this play? 

Yes! Since I was a young teenager, which is sadly (and thankfully) quite some time ago now. 


2. Tell us a little about your character and his/her personality?

Jim Hacker is like most politicians. They all want to do something, end up realizing they can't or can't be bothered and so end up settling for merely appearing to do something. Basically, he's fundamentally good-hearted but practically an idiot. 


3. The most difficult or trickiest part about playing your character?

There is a good-hearted idiot in all of us, so I'm drawing from that. Probably the hardest part is in keeping energy levels where they need to be as Jim is heavily involved from the get-go all the way till the end.


4. Why should local theatre lovers come watch ‘Yes, Prime Minister’?

It is quality entertainment put on by a team of passionate and competent people and it's a great evening out. They'll get to see me behaving like a good-hearted idiot, which is quite enough to be going on with!

Yasal Ruhunuge as Bernard Wooley (PM’s Principle Private Secretary)

1. Were you a fan of the sitcom before this play?

Yes, an avid fan. I’ve watched the whole series a few times and wouldn’t hesitate to binge on it again at any given time of the day. 


2. Tell us a little about your character and his/her personality?

Bernard has been with Jim Hacker throughout his career as a politician as his private Secretary. He is actually invested in Jim’s success and is quite loyal to him. However, Sir Humphrey Appleby has been his boss in the civil service all along this journey too. Therefore, Bernard is equally loyal to Sir Humphrey. This leaves Bernard’s loyalty, most often, torn between the Prime Minister and Sir Humphrey. Bernard is a very strait-laced sort of man who likes to stick to the book and work with the law instead of going around it. He is also fussy and pedantic by nature which leaves him with ‘foot in the mouth’ situations frequently. In this play, Bernard’s strait-laced, law-abiding self is put under extreme stress when he is requested to do some very shady things in the name of his country to help both the Prime Minister and his boss Sir Humphrey.

3. The most difficult or trickiest part about playing your character?

Along with the Prime Minister and Sir Humphrey, Bernard Woolley was much loved and remembered in the TV series. In the TV series, Bernard was brought to life by Derek Fowlds and later in the new script by Chris Larkin. Very different portrayals of the character but both were very successful. So, the hardest part is to do justice to the role as a whole. Other than that getting used to British speech patterns is pretty challenging. 


4. Why should people come watch the show?

For those who have watched the show, who’ve grown up watching British sitcoms on local TV, it will be a treat and a journey back to your past. If you have not watched the show, then we hope to make you fans of the show. All in all, it will be a night of witty wordplay, political chaos, scandals and general good humour.

Sahan Wijewardena as the Ambassador OF Kumarnistan

1. Were you a fan of the sitcom before this play? 

I am a huge fan of the sitcom. 

2. Tell us a little about your character and his/her personality? 

I play the Ambassador of Kumranistan. He is an Oxford-educated gentleman and a very shrewd diplomat. He is someone who likes to be in control of the situation. He has some controversial opinions when he is asked to weigh in on a rather delicate matter.


3. The most difficult or trickiest part about playing your character? 

For me personally playing a character in a British play was a challenge. Getting the nuances just right and being convincing as controlling and dominating character.


4. Why should people come watch the show? 

It will really be a fun evening to enjoy some good British humour. 

 

Kavinda Gunasekara as Jeremy Burnham (Director – General of The BBC)

1. Were you a fan of the sitcom before this play? 

I had only heard of the sitcom before this. When I learnt what the next Amphitheatre project was going to be, I watched the whole series. I’m now a huge fan of the writing and it really is a timeless masterpiece of political satire.


2. Tell us a little about your character and his/her personality? 

Jeremy Burnham, the Director General of the BBC, believes himself to be a clever manipulator of the British political hierarchy. With the help of his friends in other significant public positions in the country, he uses his positional power and seniority in trying to maintain the independence and smooth running of the BBC, whilst also furthering his personal agendas. 


3. The most difficult or trickiest part about playing your character? 

Jeremy Burnham’s character has a stage presence of around 5 minutes or even less, which meant that I had to assume the nature of the role that I need to portray within the few lines and interactions mentioned on the script. However, the guidance provided by the directors and the cast members as well as the reference material that was available helped me get a better insight into how this character would face situations that he is presented with.


4. Why should people come watch the show? 

You are in for a treat since you will get to witness how Jim Hacker & Co. go about facing their worst nightmares in trying to keep their beloved nation (among other things) afloat! 

 

Jaliya Wijewardena as Sir Humphrey Appleby (Cabinet Secretary) 

1. Were you a fan of the sitcom before this play? 

Yes! I remember watching it on TV a long time ago and then I rediscovered it when I was in university at which point, I was actually able to appreciate the humour a lot more. 

2. Tell us a little about your character and his/her personality?

Sir Humphrey Appleby is the consummate civil servant. An Oxonian with a degree in Classics, he has worked his way to the top of the British Civil Service. He is a master of manipulation and obfuscation and has a very low opinion of politicians - Prime Minister Hacker being no exception. He revels in his position and the power and influence that comes with it. 

3. The most difficult or trickiest part about playing your character?

Fans of the show will be familiar with Humphrey’s “big speeches” where he uses his command of the language and bureaucratic jargon to run circles around the Prime Minister! The play has a fair few of these and pulling them off with the right flavour is quite a challenge! 


4. Why should local theatre lovers come watch ‘Yes, Prime Minister’?

I think this play has something in it for everyone. Fans of the show will find more than a couple of little references to the original. Even for those who haven’t seen the show, it’s a very clever and entertaining script which will no doubt leave you in stitches! Plus it deals with some universal themes which everyone will doubtless relate to. 

George Cooke as Simon Chester 



1. Were you a fan of the sitcom before this play? 

I've always been a huge fan of the 'Yes Minister' and 'Yes Prime Minister' series. It's British comedy at its best and the scriptwriters and actors did a marvellous job with both series. They are truly unforgettable. 

2. Tell us a little about your character and his/her personality?

Simon Chester is the BBC  presenter tasked with interviewing the Prime Minister live. Simon has a series of questions which he wishes to field to the PM who has his own line that he wishes to push throughout the interview. Simon is persistent but the PM can be rather persuasive in his own inimitable way.

3. The most difficult or trickiest part about playing your character?

Simon has got to be polite yet ensure that this opportunity of getting the PM on TV live is not lost. Hence the role requires a degree of seriousness in tackling the issues at hand but there is also the need to react to a PM who is very insistent on having his way and Simon has to juggle through. It's slightly frustrating when balancing the two but the character calls for ensuring that fine balance  

4. Why should people come watch the show?

Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn have done a splendid job in putting the script together and Jaliya and Yasal have gone to immense trouble to bring this lovely series to life on stage in Colombo. From the witty British humour, to the eccentricities of the characters and their unusual requests, the play promises to be a treat for all theatre goers and especially memorable for those lovers of the old British series.


When the cast was asked to mention their favourite line from the play the PM quipped “If you don’t have a special arrangement with Samuel French, I'm afraid it's not possible to disclose government confidences to the public.”

Yes, Prime Minister’ will take place from 28th to 30th June 2019 at the Lionel Wendt Theatre. Tickets are priced at LKR 3500, LKR 2500, LKR 1500 and LKR 800 (Balcony – Unreserved).  ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ is 18+. 

Box plans and tickets are now available at the Lionel Wendt box office and online via www.lionelwendt.org.  


Pictures by: Pradeep Dilrukshan


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Panchali Illankoon

Law Graduate, food and travel enthusiast and full time dog mom..

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