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The Duck House at London's Vaudeville Theatre - Review

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Event: -
Fun MPs expenses satire fills void for The Thick Of It fans
The British MPs expenses scandal has all the elements for a satire so it was only a matter of time before some comedy script writers got their hands on the subject.

The Duck House
Ben Miller brings the hilarious satire The Duck House to the West End

Behind this new play are two regulars responsible for some of TV's most topical comedy panel shows. There's Colin Swash, who has been a regular writer and producer for Have I Got News For You as well as a Private Eye contributor, and Dan Patterson, responsible for jokes on Mock The Week and Room 101 and the brains behind Channel 4's Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The Duck House has preceded its West End debut at The Vaudeville Theatre with a brief tour at selected theatres in the UK, which is when I caught the show at Malvern Theatres in early November.

The lively play is overflowing with political wit and acerbic one-liners that provide no mercy to MPs of any persuasion, Rupert Murdoch and The Daily Mail. It is even so close to the bone at times that Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson are central to many of the jokes.

The Duck House3
The Duck House takes no prisoners from all the main political parties

At the heart of this fast-moving farce is self-centred, greedy MP Robert Houston, who is preparing to jump ship from Gordon Brown's Labour to the Tories in May 2009 when the expenses scandal breaks and threatens his plans, as he has been one of the worst offenders.

Comedian Ben Miller uses the charm he recently showed in BBC series Death in Paradise to get the audience behind the deeply-flawed minister as he grapples to keep his career.

While adding to the confusion are his well-meaning but equally misguided wife (played by Olivier Award-winning actress Nancy Carroll), dopey son (James Musgrave) and wonderfully vengeful crazy Russian housemaid Ludmilla (Debbie Chazen).

The plot spirals into madcap escapades featuring pandas, manure and the said duck house as they try to keep the family's over-indulgent expenses from senior Conservative, Sir Norman, giving Houston the once over and reporting back to "Dave".

This Tory peer is brought to life excellently by Simon Shepherd, who has one of the most memorable scenes involving a Camembert and Angela Merkel that is as hilarious as it is disturbing.

There's also a second-half role for Diane Vickers, who some of you may remember as an X Factor semi-finalist some years ago. She takes on a seductive role wearing a leather outfit that her fans won't have seen her in before.

The Duck House2
Former X Factor contestant Diane Vickers stars in The Duck House

This play is not only funny, clever and takes no prisoners. It is also a long-awaited political farce that will fill a void for those missing BBC's satire The Thick Of It.

Rating - 10 out of 10.

Tour Dates and Tickets

London's Vaudeville Theatre - December 10, 2013 - March 29, 2014
Tickets cost from £20 to £75 and can be purchased by calling 0844 482 9675 or from The Vaudeville Theatre website.

Before that, the show features at:

Theatre Royal, Nottingham - November 11 - November 16, 2013

Cambridge Arts Theatre, Cambridge - November 18 - November 23, 2013.
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Why? Riotous satire on the MPs expenses scandal
When: Touring and in West End until March 29, 2014
Phone: 0844 482 9675
Where: Vaudeville Theatre, London
Cost: From £20 to £75
Your Comment
I am surprised at such a favourable review for the abysmally bad "Duck Hourse". I saw this show last week and I can honestly say it is the least funny thing I have seen on stage in my life. I have seen more amusing road accidents.

Banal plot, jokes advertised so well in advance you could make a toilet visit and still get back in time, crude over-acting, every old joke in the book. About as amusing as Strictly Come Dancing without the sophistication. Dire, dire dire.
by PBH (score: 0|2) 2909 days ago
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