Hansard Review: National Theatre
- Credit: Archant
Alex Jennings and Lindsay Duncan are at the top of their game as warring spouses trading jibes about Tory privilege
In a week when arcane parliamentary procedure grips the nation, Simon Woods' debut play is named after the verbatim record of debates in the Commons and Lords.
It's set in 1988 when a previous Tory Government introduced the controversial Section 28, a homophobic law banning schools and local authorities from promoting homosexuality as a 'pretended family relationship'.
Alex Jennings' worldweary Robin Hesketh is a Thacherite Minister who voted for it, his wife Diana - for reasons that we discover - is implacably opposed.
He arrives back from Westminster to his tasteful Cotswolds home to be greeted by a war of attrition from his possibly hungover wife still in her dressing gown.
You may also want to watch:
Ranging from jibes at his mother, Eton education and their unhappy marriage - her disloyalty drinking and leftie leanings - they trade caustic barbs and withering putdowns in this dance of death.
It's clearly a well-rehearsed script - like Albee's Martha and George, the last refuge of communication for two bruised spouses. Like Martha and George an absent child - and different ways of dealing with life's pain - lurk beneath their verbal sparring.
- 1 Harassment trial: MP Claudia Webbe 'threatened to send naked photos of victim to her kids'
- 2 Two rescued from fire in Islington maisonette block
- 3 Police cordon in place after Essex Road pub 'assault'
- 4 Petrol station forecourts closed in Islington amid warning: 'Drafting in the army will not end fuel crisis'
- 5 Petrol station forecourts closed and long queues in north London
- 6 Aldi Local to open in Dalston next month
- 7 How some Islington tenants are losing their homes in a matter of minutes
- 8 Finsbury Park man arrested on suspicion of second north London murder
- 9 Eidevall says Arsenal put 'pressure on themselves' to deliver in big games
- 10 Hundreds of activists descend on north London incinerator demanding end to rebuild
Jennings and a supremely brittle Duncan are pros at the top of their game, and Woods deftly weaves politics about class privilege and entitlement into the marital war games in a way that's often very funny.
Occasionally there are glimpses that this union wasn't always unhappy.
Hesketh is no Tory bogeyman, but in his scorn for identity politics, empathy and psychotherapy - 'better just to get on with it' - a product of a time and upbringing that has cast him adrift from those he loves.
Fathers, it suggests, send their sons to Eton so they will be on the same page, but what if it doesn't work out that way?
About three quarters in, the relentless sparring starts to pale, just as Diana, armed with a diary and super 8 film, unleashes an unguessed at devastating revelation that offers hope of redemption.
As Jennings' face crumples into grief, you are dying for this lonely pair to comfort each other, but they never do.