This HouseI only just managed to catch this at its final performance (and as it was being beamed live to cinemas)… and I am so glad I did. While I recognise that it was particularly pertinent to a particular age and a particular collective national memory, it is a truly wonderful piece of theatre; quite possibly one of the best things I’ve ever seen. The writing is witty, authentic and incisive, the production hugely accomplished and clever; the casting absolutely spot-on. A personal measure of how good it was is that I came out rethinking my politics and my feelings about that period of political history. Uniformly well acted with passion, sensitivity and commitment, it was great to see so many so-called ‘character actors’ leading a major production – this is not a play that could be prettied-up – and they fully brought this difficult period to life (hideous flares and tartan jackets helped). The punk band was a great touch, the audience on the benches worked so well and the appearance of Norman St John-Stevas was a joyous bonus. The leading characters of the time remain offstage but the main female character of Ann Taylor brilliantly summed up the experiences of a generation of women, while the voice of ‘Finchley’ brought an ominous chill in the final moments. As National Theatre Live presenter Emma Freud noted, the playwright James Graham is only twelve years old, but his hugely mature play is as honest, truthful and lasting a portrait of those heady days of old Labour and decent Conservatism that you could ever hope to see. Order, order.

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