WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE Garrick Theatre
WHEN: 8/2 (matinee), runs to 25/2
The curtain is about to go up on this story of British government in the 70s when the woman next door leans over to our ear and whispers: ‘I had an affair with one of these MPs.’
- Read on for reasons including whether we found out which one
This House opened originally at the National Theatre in 2012 and has taken almost as long as the period it covers to reach the West End.
Its subject matter is the Labour government of 1974 which relied on the ‘odds and sods’ from other parties, excluding their Conservative opposition, to pass legislation.
It was a time when votes were so tight that traditional practices including pairing (where MPs unable to attend Parliament were paired off with opponents who also didn’t vote, to ensure this didn’t affect the outcome) were under threat.
The action centres on the Conservative and Labour offices of the whips who are responsible for ensuring MPs vote on party lines and it is in the red room we find Phil Daniels (Les Miserables), Steffan Rhodri (The Mentalist at the Wyndhams) and Kevin Doyle from TV’s Downton Abbey.
We very much enjoyed author James Graham’s Channel Four film Coalition (focusing on the 2010 Conservative/Lib Dem government and Gordon Brown’s downfall) and here he pulls off a more impressive trick of making fascinating a period of which we are far less familiar.
For us, Daniels is the heart of the piece, having a lesser role in the second half but still appearing on a balcony to sing a song with the live band.
Did we find out which MP our audience member claimed to have an affair with? We did. But that would be telling. It’s a story worth looking forward to not nearly as much as the next work by James Graham.