The Vote: election comedy delivers 'landslide satisfaction'

James Graham's real-time polling station play for TV and theatre gets a resounding endorsement


A new play, The Vote, set in a church polling station during the last 90 minutes of voting, will debut tonight on theatre and TV.

James Graham's comedy begins at 8.30pm at the Donmar Warehouse in London and on More4, and unfolds in real-time until the polls close at 10pm. A large cast including Mark Gatiss, Catherine Tate and Judi Dench appear in the production which was co-devised by writer Graham, (The House, and The Coalition) and Donmar director Josie Rourke.

Unlike the major parties competing in this election, The Vote has received a resounding endorsement.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

In The Times, Dominic Maxwell calls it "timely" and "a joy". Gatiss was "never better", says Maxwell, than as the upright chief polling officer, while Tate is"the comedy engine room" as assistant polling officer Kirsty, and Nina Sosanya is "as effortless here as she is in W1A".

Maxwell says Graham crams a lot of ideas into very few, very funny lines. The result is "intelligent and irresistibly enjoyable".

Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph agrees, declaring that The Vote "delivers on its promises and ushers in a state of landslide satisfaction". The play shows "democracy in action and in microcosm", says Cavendish, and there is "an amazing array of well-observed cameos". In short, it's "brilliantly apt".

Yes, it's "tremendously fun" and "hugely satisfying" says Tony Peters in The Radio Times. And within the high farce "Graham still manages to make some pertinent points".

The only shame, he says, is that because of commercial breaks, theatre audiences will get a little more than those at home. Graham and Rourke have come up with some extra antics to fill in the ad space for the theatre audience, including a "delightful sequence involving Gatiss and Sosanya sneaking a go on the school hula hoops".

Michael Billington in The Guardian admits that The Vote is a "buoyant" and entertaining farce, but he has a few minor reservations. While Graham has demonstrated that he understands the political process inside out, once or twice in The Vote he "commits acts of gross improbability".

Still, Billington urges viewers to watch the play. "It will give a much needed lift to the spirits," he says, "before you settle down to the attritional drama of the election itself."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.