He wears a suit. He sweats a lot. He drinks beer, even though he doesn't like it, but because it "tests well". He's doing a good job, right?

The Prudent Man performed by Lyall Banks opened the third-annual Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival, with nearly a full house at the Pacific Crystal Palace Speigeltent on Monday.

With just one spotlit chair on stage, the one-man dialogue show is a dark, political comedy, with the Prudent Man an amalgamation of right-wing politicians who finds himself in damage control mode.

He is US president Donald Trump who just wants to "make this nation great again". Blips on his career are explained away as former Australian PM Tony Abbott would, "sometimes, s**t happens".


He has a New Zealand equivalent too - getting angry when he remembers that cafe he can't go to anymore because of the waitress with the ponytail.

Never rising from his chair, the Prudent Man gets some things off his chest while giving the audience an insight into what makes him tick, and his manufactured "relatable" personality.

"I'm the man you trust to feed your cat while you're away, 49.7 per cent of surveyed participants said," he reminds the audience, followed by the timely quip of "that's a majority, elections have been won on less."

But it is when cracks begin to appear in his well crafted facade with angry outbursts that reveal what's really going on beneath the smiles, the waves, and the sound bites - when he shows his true self and becomes the antithesis of all things politically correct.

As his grasp on the world begins to slip the show's non-linear narrative transports the audience through his political career - bookended by a childhood trauma at the seaside to a horrible discovery on the beach as an adult.

While the play has its funny moments, it's main takeaway is a reflection on our world today, the leaders who shape it, and the ramifications of their decisions.

As the Prudent Man finds, if you throw a chip amongst the seagulls, you're responsible for the outcome.