Hansard, National Theatre - ★★★★★ - Until November 25, 2019


It is hard not to think of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf when one encounters the sparring spouses of Hansard, but this is a thoroughly British version of that classic with an overlay of class and politics and almost nary a raised voice. The barbs come quick and fast and the quips are quite brilliant. The commentary on politics rings hilariously true and is vividly contemporary although this piece is set at a very specific moment in 1988. Simon Woods has written a thoughtful and thought provoking work. Wrapped in a dark torrent of epigrams and brittle wit, the pain and emotional cost of Margaret Thatcher's homophobic law Section 28 are personified, and the values embodied by that legislation are exposed in a way that shows how they echo in many aspects of today's political debates. Alex Jennings as Tory MP, Robin Hesketh, is simply excellent. He catches exactly the right tone and brings his character to life without falling into two-dimensional parody. Lindsay Duncan as his left-leaning, bitterly disappointed wife has the audience laughing and weeping as she gradually unravels how the pain of her husband's political decisions has inflamed the wound that led to the cleavage in their relationship. This Hansard is a far cry from its dry and often turgid namesake. It is a record of personal and social distress and decision making that shouldn't be missed.

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until November 25, 2019
Various show times available. See website below.
Lyttelton Theatre, National Theatre
Nearest tube: Waterloo

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