HONOUR at London's Park Theatre
Let me begin my review of Tiny Fines in association with London's Park Theatre revival of Joanna Murray-Smith's 'Honour produced by Paul Robinson that this production features a stellar cast whose performances shine in this somewhat wordy drama about a marital break up.

Playing in the round in this intimate space, with minimum obstructive staging, every nuance and expression is captured and the audience, voyeurs to a sparring of words and baring of souls, is drawn in to the unfolding sequence of events which culminate in the brave emergence of Honor, the loyal and dependable wife of successful journalist George. 

Through their 32 years of comfortable marriage, Honor has fiercely supported her husband in his career whilst holding hers in abeyance as she raises their daughter. It is he who is given the space and independence to flourish. But is her loyalty the act of a martyr? Has she suffocated the excitement by allowing his self grandeur, which has contributed to his inflated ego and selfishness? 'Honour' questions the premise of love and marriage. Does fidelity rely on sacrifice? Is there true honour in loyalty?

Henry Goodman plays George, a journalist and TV interviewer in his early sixties. He is in a cosy marriage with Honor, played with strength and integrity by Imogen Stubbs. She was a talented writer and poet who has given up her promising career whilst George has blossomed in his. She shows no resentment, believing this to be the foundation of their successful union. 

The play opens with George being interviewed by feisty, intellectual Claudia (Katie Brayben) who is writing a book about George. Their sexual frisson in their meeting points towards an inevitable affair. George is besotted with her and in his somewhat late mid-life crisis believes himself to be suffocating, dying in his uneventful marriage with Honor. His cruelty to her as he reveals his boredom and declares the end of the life they share is powerful, and whilst it raises anger in his daughter Sophie (Natalie Simpson) and in the audience, the enforced separation ironically empowers Honor who emerges like a chrysalis to a future full of promise. 

Each of the four is entirely credible. Henry Goodman as George has bouts of anger and frustration but he is not the strong partner of this marriage. It is Honor, played by Imogen Stubbs whose performance is powerful and who takes us with her through the strong emotions of her shock at the dissolution of her 32 year safe, married life. Daughter Sophie and journalist Claudia express the insular views of the young. They will not sacrifice their lives for anyone and cannot envisage a partnership that has such expectations.

Liz Cooke's minimalist set is reminiscent of a boxing ring, where the actors circle one another attacking and defending through their sparring of words, delivered with punch and verve. There are no gimmicks, no scene changes, but two acts and a purity of theatre.

'Honour' is a strong play, highly charged through a dialogue which is well written and poignant.The acting is superb. Stubbs convinces as the shocked wife whose life seems to be over. How will she manage or face her future? She is defined by her marriage to her husband. Goodman is the perfect match, believing he has found new meaning to his relentless life but who in fact is reduced by this. Katie Brayben is convincing as the careerist Claudia and Natalie Simpson reacts strongly as a daughter betrayed.

This is not a 'bourgeois fairy tale' (Claudia) but a piece of excellent theatre and a master class in acting. It was a privilege to be there.

Photography: Alex Brenner

Honour

Venue: Park 200, Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP
Dates: 25 October 2018 to 24 November 2018.
Age guidfance: 12+
Performances: Tues-Sat evennings 7.30 pm, Thurs & Sat matinees 3.00 pm
Captioned: Wed 21 Nov
Prices: Previews: £18.50  Standard £18.50 - £32.50
Concessions: £16.50 - £23.50. child (under 16) £15 - £20
Booking: www.parttheatre.co.uk/020 7870 6876*
*10% telephone booking fee capped at £2.50 per ticket

Running time: 2 hours with an interval