- This event has passed.
May 15th - May 19th
Jonathan Church Productions and Headlong present:
The National Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre production of
Produced in the West End by Nica Burns, Neal Street Productions and Headlong
Written by James Graham
Directed by Jeremy Herrin
Following sell-out runs at the National Theatre and in the West End this extraordinarily prescient play takes on a new importance in the current political climate. Are we in the midst of a political revolution? Can the country stay united?
Roll back to 1974. The corridors of Westminster ring with the sound of infighting and backbiting as Britain’s political parties battle to change the future of the nation, whatever it takes.
In an era of chaos, both hilarious and shocking, fist fights break out in the parliamentary bars, high-stake tricks and games are played, while sick or dying MPs are carried through the lobby to register their crucial votes as the government hangs by a thread.
James Graham’s biting, energetic and critically-acclaimed play strips politics down to the practical realities of those behind the scenes who roll up their sleeves, and on occasion bend the rules, to manoeuvre a diverse and conflicting chorus of MPs within the Mother of all Parliaments. Directed by Jeremy Herrin (People, Places and Things, Wolf Hall), This House gives us a timely, moving and often amusing insight into the workings of British politics.
Audiences will be treated to a live band on stage playing music from the era, including: ‘5 years’ and ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide’ by David Bowie, ‘Pretty Vacant’ by The Sex Pistols, ‘I Vow To Thee My Country’ and ‘The Red Flag’.
Please note this production contains strong language throughout.
Download the education pack HERE
★★★★★ “A stroke of genius.” The Times
★★★★★ “A thrilling play that both relives history and transcends it.” Guardian
★★★★ “Ferociously witty” “The most intelligent, entertaining and informative political drama of this decade.” Daily Telegraph
“A funny and moving political epic” The Times
“.. magnificently sharp and witty … a landslide success” Evening Standard
Production photos by Johan Persson:
Choice Radio Worcester
It was certainly a heady era for politics in the 1970s.
An era which saw no less than 4 different Prime Ministers in power - Wilson, Heath, Callaghan and Thatcher - and so a period ripe for a play about political posturing, devious dealings and malicious manipulations. All in the name of democracy. What you probably don't expect in a play which could easily be a rather dull interpretation of the inner workings of a government and its opposition is to be met with an introduction by a rock band - bass guitars and drums - and dancing Members of Parliament…
But then this is This House, James Graham's drama and fictional account of the period from 1974 to 1979, claimed by many politicians to be "the most dramatic they can remember in their lifetime". Fiction it may be but it brilliantly portrays the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the successes and failures of the people voted in to represent our interests - or at least that is what we are led to believe.
The big "names" do not appear in the show except by reference, which leaves the stage set for the Members of Parliament to carry out their work for them, making - and breaking - deals in a democratic system which is based on tradition rather than constitution ("the one thing we gave the world which has not been returned to us"). The large cast - 19 of them - often play more than one role (there are more than 30 actual MP's depicted here, including one for Bromsgrove & Redditch, whose MP believed he was moving to the Worcestershire countryside, leading to the immortal line "You can't find a haystack in Redditch for all the f***ing needles"!). Luckily, there is absolutely no confusion about which MP is which as they are introduced in true parliamentary style by the speaker of the Commons, a neat and effective trick which avoids makes it clear who is who.
With a democratic system which led for much of that period to hung parliaments - or at least extremely closely matched in terms of seats - it is often down to the Whips to use whatever tricks they can muster to get the "others" (the Welsh, Scots, Irish and independents) on board, including the rather undemocratic practice of "pairing" (where a gentleman's agreement between the parties means if an MP from one party cannot attend, an MP from the other will not attend either) and ultimately getting an MP to vote even if apparently on his death bed. For there is so much at stake here that even a single vote not cast can make the crucial difference between winning and losing.
The impressive two-level set hosts the musicians on the upper level who play throughout the performance as well as a huge depiction of the most famous clock face in the world whilst down below are the rooms where the deals are being concocted and where left becomes right and vice versa, taking their little box of personal belongings with them.
Totally believable - and whilst based in the 1970's, certainly not specific to that era - This House is a biting depiction of what it is like to be a politician in the cut-and-thrust representation of the people which may even make you feel sorry for some of the MPs. Or maybe not.
So pay attention at the back! If you don't know your Erskine May from your Serjeant At Arms or your Nodding Through from your Wrecking Amendment, this play will both educate, entertain and, frankly, astonish you!
I suggest the author watches a series of Yes Minister to see what good political comedy writing is like. This House would only be 40 minutes long if you left out the obscenities.