Sunday, 21 July 2013

this house

We saw This House at the National Theatre on Wednesday 20 March - our anniversary outing. (As I put it on Facebook, 'To mark our twentieth anniversary I am taking my beloved to see a play about the internal political machinations of the House of Commons in the 1970s. It's my passionately romantic soul which makes others envy her so.' Someone offered me 'a woman's perspective' and suggested I buy twenty roses; I said I already had the perspective of the woman who mattered most. Anna said, 'The Point Academy of Romantic Instruction clearly taught you well....'. Emlyn suggested taking her to the real thing, the Strangers' Gallery, with the added benefit of it being free; I said we'd done that too - 'I know how to show a girl a good time'.)

We both enjoyed it a lot. It was well done and well acted, and full of accurate detail; in one way it was a shame to have read the programme in advance (more recently I've stopped doing that, actually, to see plays without the notes and then read them after), since they recounted so many of the details, but it did at least confirm that the most outlandish details were accurate. The only detail which jarred with me, but no one else I'm sure, was that the Western Isles MP of the time, Donald Stewart, was a character, but the accent he had was certainly not Hebridean, just a generalised Scottish accent. None of the MPs were named, actually, only referred to by their constituency, though some were recognisable even if you didn't know who they were from that.

A number of the actors were familiar to us. I realised that Vincent Franklin was both the nonsense-talking Tory spin doctor from The Thick Of It and the northern guy in Twenty Twelve, a connection I hadn't made before; he was good in this too. The staging was interesting, with commons benches on stage which moved and which had some audience members on. They also had a band on an upper level, who played music from the time, and a couple of the actors sang songs from the period, including Phil Daniels, who did Five Years I think.

Some reviews (we saw it in the Olivier, but it was a transfer from the Cottesloe, so some of the reviews are of the earlier production, which Philip Glenister was in). Telegraph (original). Telegraph. Guardian. London Theatre site. What's On Stage (original)The Stage. Londonist (original). West End Whingers. There Ought To Be Clowns (original). The Arts Desk (original). Rev Stan blog (original).