Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews Simon Godwin’s production starring Lindsay Duncan and Alex Jennings.

(c)Catherine Ashmore.

The Guardian: *** “while Woods’s play is funny, pleasantly short (90 minutes) and ultimately moving, it also has the structural flaws of the debut dramatist.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “Woods writes with clarity and ease; as a former actor, he gives actors lines you can imagine they relish and he’s good at landing jokes that betray a particular type of sardonic ennui.”

The Telegraph: *** “I’m caught in a hung-parliament state between admiration and disappointment. Hansard, Simon Woods’s arrestingly titled debut play – which halloos a sense of topicality, referencing as it does Parliament’s famous in-house transcription service – shows definite promise. Woods is an actor who might yet become a major playwright.”

The Arts Desk: *** “Woods’s inexperience shows: he has simply not given himself enough time to fully excavate the psychological conflicts that he has introduced. So although there is much to enjoy in this debut, its ending seems oddly incomplete and perfunctory.”

Time Out: *** “Clearly there is an audience appetite for a more old-fashioned sort of play. But was Woods’s debut the only candidate? Ultimately it’s not exceptional, and with the NT still a ways away from its targets for staging works by living female writers and writers of colour, was a middling play by a white dude the absolute best use of this slot? Woods may have promise, but promise isn’t really enough for a 900-seat theatre.”

London Theatre1: **** “For a debut play, it’s a good effort from Simon Woods, whose script balances various political and personal slants. The sometimes vicious sarcasm throughout makes both characters dislikeable, at least until the final ten minutes or so, and yet, because it is so genuinely witty, it is also disarming.”

Evening Standard: *** “imon Godwin’s ability to finesse difficult plays looked stretched for much of the evening, and his production is less than the sum of its parts.”

The Upcoming: ** “When Jennings and Duncan first get to engage in their toxic patter it’s all very fun. These are two old sparring partners repeating well-oiled resentments, so familiar the sting has long since diminished. And then the conversation begins to diverge from the normal routine, that deadly substance – sincere emotion – starting to break through their straitjackets of English repression. Here the pair aren’t as good; something doesn’t quite click, a lack of genuine feeling that might be related to the premise.”

West End Whingers: “The play has the right formula to head to the West End. A few minor tweaks and Woods could have justifiably renamed it Who’s Afraid of Virginia Bottomley?”

iNews: *** “Woods writes with wit and clarity, and the note of scepticism about Conservative ideology is welcome, although he is equally sympathetic to both characters. Unfortunately, the final revelations in this 90-minute play come too late, and Woods has not given himself enough time to fully excavate the couple’s conflicts.”

Broadway World: **** “Though deliciously witty, Woods’ play ultimately illustrates the damage of bad-faith argument, judgement without compassion, and buying a sales pitch based on doctored memories. The trappings of a good life are finally exposed as just that: a stage set, and two unhappy players cut adrift from one another.”

Hansard continues to play at the National Theatre until the 25th November.


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