This House at the Garrick Theatre attracted an average 4.5 stars from pro reviewers, with seven awarding fives.
Sarah Crompton (What’s On Stage) fairly typically felt James Graham’s 2012 play had lost neither its “exuberant impact –or its sobering pertinence”, and said his “talent is to conjure high drama, raucous comedy and deep emotion from the most unlikely of places”. Fiona Mountford (Evening Standard) declared this “magnificently sharp and witty look at the struggles of the 1974-9 Labour government… masterful all over again”. Patrick Marmion (Daily Mail) hailed “a play of astonishing, virtuoso complexity which is also a crash course in the workings of Parliament” and found “the hilarious horse trading tempers what was a brutal time in British politics”. Despite what Theo Bosanquet (Time Out) called “a starkly changed political climate” he felt “it serves as a reminder of the perennial challenges of democracy itself” adding: “For all the apparent dryness of its subject, the play is rich in humour and sentiment”.
Crompton thought it “beautifully served” by Jeremy Herrin’s “realistic” and “bold” production which, she said, “still walks, with real brilliance, a perilous tightrope… constantly balancing the nitty gritty facts of the time with the relevance for our own”. Mountford had seen “no better direction” of the play, reporting: “Herrin conducts, choreographs and makes fly material that could potentially, in lesser hands, be tough-going” so that, “the action whirls around the stage”. Others found it “tumultuous”, “ebullient” or “thrilling” and Marmion saw “never a dull moment”.
Crompton praised Nathanial Parker’s “grace” and Bosanquet judged him “excellent”. Both had equal praise for Steffan Rhodri, whom Marmion thought “terrific”. He also called Phil Daniels “outstanding”, praising a “Shakespearean range of industrial expletives”, and Mountford enjoyed this “rollicking” performance. She found Christopher Godwin “quietly moving” and Lauren O’Neil “great fun”. Crompton judged O’Neil, along with Kevin Doyle and Malcolm Sinclair “all pitch perfect”. Bosanquet described “truly an ensemble effort without a weak link in sight”.
Marmion found it “even at second viewing… terrific sport” and Crompton found “three hours and almost five years fly by in a moment”. She summed up “a remarkable achievement for all concerned” which, Bosanquet felt, “has captured an enduring dilemma of politics; the tension between principle and practice”. Mountford, declaring “a landslide success” found it “unstoppably riveting” musing “Whoever would have thought that the intricacies of a minority government struggling to pass a series of bills would have been so engrossing?” She summed up: “Both a treat and a triumph… a superlative night out.”
Currently booking to 25 Feb 2017, with tickets available from StageScan.
For more proof that Christmas has come early this year even for panto-sceptics, don’t miss Buried Child or Dead Funny, If you fancy some ‘bleak midwinter’ spookiness, check our ticket offers for The Woman in Black. Or to lift the family’s spirits, we recommend School of Rock or Half a Sixpence.
Have a great holiday, and see you in 2017.