Wednesday, 20 March 2013

National Theatre: 'This House'

An excursion to the National Theatre  to see their production of 'This House' written by James Graham. The play concerns the shenanigans that took place during the UK Parliament between February 1974 and May 1979. Older readers may recall that Labour led a minority government followed by a majority of only three, and consequently had to make various deals in order to get its legislation passed. Eventually, they lost a vote of confidence and Thatcher won the subsequent General Election.
The play's central protagonists are the rival Whips and the action takes place in their offices, against a background of the House of Commons. A bit of clever staging is to seat some of the audience on stage as if they were the two sides of the House of Commons chamber. The script is very acutely observed, providing some hilarious caricatures of the politicians of the time, the Whips being portrayed sympathetically whilst the MPs they manipulate are the clowns and the butt of most of the jokes. There is a fair amount of world class cursing and insults, delivered in character, some of the best coming from a Tory MP referred to as 'The Colonel'. Meanwhile, a serious point is made about the absurdity of many aspects of the UK Parliamentary system and its procedures, and the harsh reality of political life.

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