It's time for my review of Hansard.
It’s a summer’s morning in 1988 and Tory politician Robin Hesketh has returned home to the idyllic Cotswold house he shares with his wife of 30 years, Diana. But all is not as blissful as it seems. Diana has a stinking hangover, a fox is destroying the garden, and secrets are being dug up all over the place. As the day draws on, what starts as gentle ribbing and the familiar rhythms of marital scrapping quickly turns to blood-sport.
In regards to Hansard's story, I had mixed feelings. Whilst elements of the narrative are very interesting indeed, there are parts which felt a little repetitive. The play's strongest moments come in the final half hour, when Hansard begins to move away from the political disagreements of Robin and Diana, and instead focus on their own lives and the impact of their son's death. Although this part of the play was rather depressing, it had the desired effect of a heavy emotional impact. For the first time throughout the whole play, the audience begin to feel sympathetic towards these characters in response to the grief they have undergone as a result of losing their son. Such emotion was previously missing in the play, and I was therefore appreciative of the show's ending. In regards to the negative aspects of Hansard's story, the first hour of the show does feel rather monotonous. The show features a back-and-forth argument between the married couple, with their contrasting political views and personalities severely clashing. The argument did become somewhat tedious after a while, and it felt rather prolonged. In order to combat this, I feel that the introduction of a new character, or perhaps a change of setting, could have helped to make Hansard a little more interesting.
Hansard consists of only two characters, who in this instance are portrayed by Alex Jennings and Lindsay Duncan. Both performers are perfectly cast and were a true delight to watch. Whilst both characters are somewhat flawed people, the actors still succeed in gaining our sympathy for them. Alex Jennings, as Robin, was remarkable and convincingly embodied the persona of an uptight and pompous Conservative politician. In particular, Jennings shone in the final 15 minutes, whereby Robin begins to shed his cold personality and demonstrates emotion that we had not previously seen. Lindsay Duncan, as Diana, was equally as extraordinary. Duncan has a fantastic stage presence, and was highly engaging throughout. She gave both a believable and heartfelt performance.
Now for my final verdict on Hansard. I give Hansard...
Whilst the narrative of Hansard is not perfect, the two leading performances are unquestionably outstanding and more than make up for any of the play's shortcomings.
Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.
Thanks for reading!
-The Basic Theatre Reviewer