New comedy PARTY GAMES! starring MATTHEW COTTLE, DEBRA STEPHENSON and RYAN EARLY tours to Bath as the nation prepares for a General Election

The world premiere production of Party Games! visits the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 18th to Saturday 22nd June as part of a nationwide tour, just weeks before voters take to the polls for the UK’s 2024 General Election. Matthew Cottle (Game On, Unforgotten, Citizen Khan, The Windsors), Debra Stephenson (Coronation Street, Bad Girls, The Impressions Show, Dead Ringers) and Ryan Early (The Archers, Coronation Street, Almost Never) lead the cast in this hilariously acerbic new comedy, written by political insider Michael McManus and directed by Joanna Read.

Set in 2026, Party Games! sees John Waggner, newly elected leader of the hastily formed centrist One Nation Party, presiding over a hung parliament, a discontented electorate and striking cheesemakers. He and his power-hungry MPs must cling onto authority through whatever shaky means possible. Can one man, a Svengali spin doctor, and some dodgy data unite the country? And what role can his wife, the King and a large spider play in keeping the lights on, not to mention his trusty AI?

Natalie Dunne, Matthew Cottle, Debra Stephenson, Ryan Early and Jason Callender

Matthew Cottle, who stars as Prime Minister John Waggner, is well known on television for his roles as Martin in BBC’s Game On, Liam in ITV’s Unforgotten, Dave in BBC’s Citizen Khan and Edward in Channel 4’s The Windsors. Amongst his many screen credits, he played Stan Laurel in the film Chaplin and Albany in The Dresser alongside Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen. He has also made guest appearances in series including Bridgerton, Man Down, Endeavour, Plebs and Life Begins. Marking his tenth production at the Theatre Royal since 2001, Matthew has most recently been seen by Bath audiences in Mrs Warren’s Profession in 2022. His many stage credits also include productions at the National Theatre, in the West End and on UK tour.

Debra Stephenson stars as Deputy Leader Lisa Williams. Her many screen roles include playing Frankie Baldwin in Coronation Street; Diane Powell in Playing the Field; Naomi Scotcher in Waterloo Road; Charlotte Hill in Doctors; Jeni Sinclaire in Holby City, and Shell Dockley in Bad Girls – for which she was nominated three times for Best Actress at the National Television Awards. Debra is also one of Britain’s best loved comedy impressionists. She co-starred in BBC One’s The Impressions Show with Culshaw and Stephenson, BBC Radio 4’s Dead Ringers, ITV’s Newzoids and both incarnations of Spitting Image. Her stage credits include Spitting Image The Musical, Dead Ringers Live, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, and her one woman show The Many Voices of Debra Stephenson at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and on UK tour.

Ryan Early, who plays the role of spin doctor Seth Dickens, has recently appeared as Darren Vance in Coronation Street and Dan in Almost Never for CBBC. Fans of Radio 4’s The Archers will know Ryan best for his role as Lee Bryce in the long running series. Previously on television, he has also appeared in Grantchester, Heartbeat, Love Soup, The Bill, Casualty, Doctors and The Crown. Ryan has performed at the Theatre Royal Bath previously in Oliver Twist in 2004.

Natalie Dunne appears as Anne Waggner, the Prime Minister’s wife. Her credits include The Third Man at Menier Chocolate Factory, Your Christmas Or Mine? for Amazon, Trying for Apple TV and Locked Up Abroad for Disney+.

Krissi Bohn who plays the role of Private Secretary Candice Edwards, is best known on television for her three-year role as Jenna Kamara in Coronation Street. She is also a storyteller on the CBeebies series Treasure Champs and a series regular in the CBBC series Biff & Chip.

Jason Callender, who plays the role of would-be Chief of Staff Luke Roberts, has appeared on television in Malory Towers for the BBC and 4 O’Clock Club for CBBC. His stage credits include Upstart Crow in the West End, and The Play That Goes Wrong in the West End and on tour, including at the Theatre Royal Bath in 2017 and 2020.

William Oxborrow, who plays multiple roles in Party Games!, has appeared in The Clandestine Marriage and Guys and Dolls in the West End, The Madness of GeorgeIII at the National Theatre, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and A Clockwork Orange for the RSC, and played the title role in The Picture of Dorian Gray at Dublin’s Gate Theatre.

Ryan Early, Matthew Cottle and Krissi Bohn

Party Games! is written by a man who was on the inside of party politics, Michael McManus, who worked in Central Office while Margaret Thatcher and John Major were Prime Ministers, and as a special adviser to a number of UK ministers between 1992 and 1995. He was Head of Sir Edward Heath’s private office from 1995 to 2000 and the Conservative Party candidate for Watford in 2001. Between 2012 and 2014, he ran the then Press Complaints Commission (later IPSO). In September 2020, his play Trial of Donald Wolfit was the second professional production to open in London after the first Covid lockdown. Party Games! is his fifth play to go into full production. Michael’s Maggie & Ted opened at the White Bear Theatre in October 2019, ran in the West End at the Garrick Theatre in June 2021 and, in October of the same year, appeared at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in a new production, directed by Joanna Read.

Party Games! is an Yvonne Arnaud original production, directed by Joanna Read, with design by Francis O’Connor, lighting design by Chris Davey and sound design and original music by Beth Duke.

Joanna Read is the Director and Chief Executive of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. She was previously Artistic Director of Salisbury Playhouse and Principal of LAMDA. Joanna directed Maggie and Ted at the Arnaud in 2021, and the Yvonne Arnaud tours of Ladies of Letters and Sheila’s Island in 2022. Her production of The Hired Man at Salisbury Playhouse won the TMA Award for Best Musical. Her previous productions include also Shadowlands with Julian Glover and Lisa Eichorn, the European premiere of Arthur Miller’s Playing for Time, and national tours of Jamaica Inn, Brassed Off and A Touch of the Sun.

Matthew Cottle as Prime Minister John Waggner

Party Games! appears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 18th to Saturday 22nd June. To book tickets contact the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or visit theatreroyal.org.uk