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This House, MInerva Theatre,Oakland Park, Chichister
THE Minerva is transformed into a scaled-down replica of the House of Commons for James Graham’s play that depicts the turbulent years of 1974-79 when a Labour Government managed to stay in power during a hung Parliament.
The play offers a fascinating insight into the wheeling, dealing and dirty tricks deployed by both parties from inside the “engine room” of Parliament – the whips’ offices.
For some of us aged ones it also provides a nostalgic journey.The customs and formality of age-long traditions in the House are sharply contrasted with shabby shenanigans behind the scenes. For crucial votes the Government wheel in the sick and the dying while the Opposition organise filibustering blocking tactics.
The production ensures slick transitions from one arena to another with the bear pit and school playground atmosphere of the House being cleverly choreographed.
Schoolboy humour extends to name-calling.
Despite serious events and personal tragedies the play is full of wicked humour.Much comes from Phil Daniels, as the coarse Labour Chief Whip, who is pitted against the uber-sophisticated Malcolm Sinclair and Nathaniel Parker.
They are well supported by Steffan Rhodri, Kevin Doyle, Lauren O’Neil and a superb ensemble who switch effortlessly between their multi-roles.
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