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Nat Theatre Live (YouTube) review: This House


This House, National Theatre Live (YouTube), streaming free until June 4.

What a tour de force this is! I can't remember the names of any of the actors off the top of my head, but one portrays Michael Heseltine and another is Audrey Wise, the former MP for Coventry South west.

While Tory minister Heseltine famously swings the House of Commons mace during a heated debate, Audrey's role in the Labour Party of 1974 - as it clings on to power by a fingernail - is far more significant.

Representing the car workers of Canley and the more left-wing activists of Earlsdon, Audrey makes a principled stand on inflation. She's just not a team player, despite the fact that her government is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, and facing one vote of no confidence after another.

Playwright James Graham cleverly sets most of the action in the "engine house" of the government, the whips' office. Or should that be Heart Attack Central?

The play offers a rambunctious and gripping glimpse of parliamentary protocol and privilege. The Tories know how to rule - they see it as their God-given right, just like King Charles l. And like him, they are struggling to adapt to the twists in the road ahead.

Meanwhle, Labour is still not used to holding the reins of power with resolution, leaving young revolutionaries to split and fight amongst themselves.

No change there then.

I loved the wartime analogies, the live music, the party political jousting. Not to mention the coronaries waiting to happen, and the desperate need to get each side through the lobby to vote - dead or alive.

Whether you remember the 1970s or not, this is the most entertaining slice of history you're ever likely to see.

Winner!