Neva and I attended the opening night of This House at Norwich Theatre Royal, after attending the opera less than a week ago, I was curious to see what this next performance had in store for us, on the face of it an entire show about politics didn’t exactly sound that exciting, and maybe a little bit (dare I say it!) boring! But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
It was brilliant! The recommended age was 12+ and it was mainly due to the language, and there was plenty of that! Growing up in Barnsley as a teen, I could totally relate to Wakefield whip Walter Harrison (played by James Gaddas) he reminded me of quite a few of my school teachers, outside of the classroom!
Natalie Grady was simply brilliant as Ann Taylor, the first woman whip, she was sincere, forthright and oh so funny, the hairstyles and clothing of the 70s was certainly a fashion of its own, and you could totally see all of those conversations taking place within the Commons.
As an adult who is pretty used to dodgy deals and parties doing all they can to get into power, it is hard to imagine how this was first viewed, taking place in 1974, (before I was even born) seems like a lifetime ago (starting to feel old!) and you suddenly have the utmost respect for the people behind closed doors trying to ensure everything runs smoothly. The five years before Maggie Thatcher came in to rule, were certainly never dull, and it was nice to see there were some rebels even back then, played beautifully by Louise Ludgate as Audrey Wise.
The Tory Whips played their parts to perfection, William Chubb as Humphrey Atkins was exactly how you would imagine someone in that position to be, from the beginning of the scene when they are swapping offices through to their ultimate triumph again less than 5 years later. Matthew Pidgeon was superb as Jack Weatherill, whealing and dealing trying to ensure they could take down the Labour Party and his character ultimately showing he wasn’t all bad. I shall never be able to say the word aristocrats the same again!
The set was designed by Rae Smith and worked incredibly well as both offices and the Chamber, if you are feeling like you would like to be involved even closer, there are a number of on-stage seats available for each performance, to get right at the heart of the action. But be quick as they are going quite quickly.
This House will be at Norwich Theatre Royal nightly until Saturday, May 12, with matinee shows on Thursday and Saturday. For tour dates, check out This House website