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This House (play)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This House
Written byJames Graham
Date premieredSeptember 18, 2012 (2012-09-18)
Place premieredCottesloe Theatre
Original languageEnglish

This House is a play by James Graham. It received its première in the Cottesloe Theatre at the Royal National Theatre from 18 September to 1 December 2012 in a production directed by Jeremy Herrin. In February 2013 it transferred to the larger Olivier Theatre where it continued to play with much critical acclaim to packed houses until May 2013.

The show was revived at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester from 23 September to 29 October 2016 before it received its West End debut at the Garrick Theatre where it ran from 19 November 2016 to 25 February 2017.[1]

A UK tour began on 23 February 2018 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

In May 2019 the play was voted Play of the Decade in Bloomsbury Publishing's '60 Years of Modern Plays' public vote.[2]

It derives its title from the name given to the House of Commons by MPs. The action takes place in the period in British parliamentary history between the February 1974 general election and the 1979 vote of no confidence in the government of James Callaghan. The play is set in the Palace of Westminster mainly in the offices of the Labour and Conservative Chief Whips. Party leaders such as Ted Heath, Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Jeremy Thorpe and Margaret Thatcher remain offstage characters (though Liberal leader David Steel is depicted). The narrative concentrates on the relationships between the two sets of whips (the so-called usual channels), and between the whips, their backbenchers and the members of the minor parties.

Although the play is based on real events, it is neither a documentary nor a biography, but a fictionalised account of a turbulent period in British politics. Conversations are imagined, characters have been changed, incidents added and the time line adjusted.[3]


This House was based on true events that occurred in the 1970s House of Commons. During these years many issues arose. In the Parliament, there is the House of Commons. There are two principal parties – the Labour Party and the Conservative Party. Those two sides compete against each other to govern the country and to pass certain bills. They have to vote fairly between the Government and Opposition sides to get them to pass, but at this time this was not as easy as it usually is, because the governing party had either a very small majority or none at all (allowing for the minority parties).

Normally, when one member cannot be present at a division, a member from the opposing party has to remove themselves. This method is called pairing, and operates as an informal "gentleman’s agreement", rather than something officially organized by the House. At times throughout the play, relationships and pairing break down due to the rise of tensions in the situation of a government with a small majority or even none at all. The breakdown of pairing caused drama between the two principal parties. Both sides were defeated and circumstances where they felt that they had been robbed or cheated. Some of the men did not pair correctly and one side would obtain more votes than another and this caused more issues between the two parties. Sick members were obliged to attend the House for their votes to be counted, and this was done even in circumstances where this may have contributed to their deaths. Such tension, sometimes including negotiations with minority parties, went on for five years until finally, after dozens of defeats, the opposition had the opportunity to win a vote of "no confidence" against the Government, which led to a General Election.

It is very rare occurrence for this to happen (the previous occasion had been 1924). The new Prime Minister that was elected was a woman, Margaret Thatcher.


As well as the whips listed below, MPs Audrey Wise and Alfred Broughton appear in the play.

Characters and cast

Character Original cast (National Theatre) Chichester and West End cast UK tour
Labour Whips
Bob Mellish, Labour chief whip under Harold Wilson Phil Daniels (Andrew Frame in some performances due to Daniels' time off)[4] Phil Daniels Martin Marquez
Michael Cocks, Labour chief whip under James Callaghan Vincent Franklin Kevin Doyle Tony Turner
Walter Harrison, Labour deputy chief whip Philip Glenister; (later portrayed by Reece Dinsdale when the production transferred) Steffan Rhodri James Gaddas
Ann Taylor, Labour whip Lauren O'Neil Lauren O'Neil Natalie Grady
Joe Harper, Labour whip Richard Ridings David Hounslow David Hounslow
Conservative Whips
Humphrey Atkins, Conservative chief whip Julian Wadham Malcolm Sinclair William Chubb
Jack Weatherill, Conservative deputy chief whip Charles Edwards Nathaniel Parker Matthew Pidgeon
Fred Silvester, Conservative whip Ed Hughes Ed Hughes Giles Cooper
Ensemble actors and Actor Musicians

External links


  1. ^ "This House at the Garrick Theatre | National Theatre". Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  2. ^ "This House 60 Years of Modern Plays". Bloomsbury. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  3. ^ Program, This House (Olivier Version). National Theatre. 2013.
  4. ^ This House -
  5. ^ This House London Garrick Theatre
This page was last edited on 21 March 2021, at 13:55
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