Tiny Fires in Association with Park Theatre (venue)
01 November 2018 (released)
05 November 2018
Honour is ostensibly a play about a family broken apart by an older mans affair with a younger woman – nothing new there. But it is the psychological realism and the linguistic dexterity of the characters, determined to examine the minutiae of their lives, that sets the play apart. First produced in Australia in 1995 and then the National Theatre in 2003, it still feels completely fresh in the wake of current gender politics.
When after thirty two years of an apparently happy marriage, George announces to his wife that he’s leaving, at first Honour can only assume he’s having some of sort of break-down. Prompted by the arrival of thrusting young journalist, Claudia, George leaps at the chance to break away from the familiar security of his comfortable life. ‘Isn’t loyalty just resistance to change?’ challenges Claudia, with devastating results.
Writer, Joanna Murray-Smith is relentless in her pursuit of detail - with a cerebral bent to the conversations that keep you on your toes. Yet peppered with wit and comic moments, it never becomes bogged down in debate.
Liz Cooke’s elegant set is minimal but affective, representing a huge wave sweeping over the stage with abstract blocks pushed around to create new spaces. Set in the round, Paul Robinson’s direction is clean and affective, with absolute focus on the brilliant cast who slip effortlessly between scenes, rising and falling with the emotional tides of change.
Henry Goodman and Imogen Stubbs don’t need an Aga and walls lined with books to bring their affluent, intellectual world to life and Katie Brayban is breath-takingly brazen. But the most poignant performance comes from Natalie Simpson, who plays their university age daughter, Sophie who has always been an intellectual disappointment to her father. As she stands in a pool of light at the edge of the stage struggling to find a way to express what belonging to a family means, the depth of her feeling cannot fail to speak and the bubble of Claudia’s affair is burst. Her softness in this scene is counterbalanced by a devastating attack on her father. ‘In forty years I will not be weeping over you.’ she says, with the powerful voice of a new generation of women.