House of Commons Review
The play starts in a bleak room and from the outset you are introduced to six people, immediately understanding they are in a mental asylum of some description. The people are introduced to Lana who is new there and awaiting the result of her trial and thinking about, depending on the outcome, where she’ll go. Through the play you slowly learn more about the institution and over time start to learn why each person is there.
The play is essentially a series of smaller stories tied together in this one place but it speaks about the different ways people cope in confined, helpless situations and about how people relate to and treat those around them (in several situations). The place they are in is remote from the world and the staging perfectly illustrates how desolate the place is and how isolated they are.
While some of the stories are more intriguing than others it’s a compelling narrative and keeps your interest throughout. The characters we meet are all distinct and well-drawn with the thoughtful dialogue that Luke Culloty is so good at producing. They are individuals thrown together with little in common and that remoteness from each other comes across in their interactions. We have to give a special mention to Luke Culloty’s performance of Andre (who is also the playwright). He had no lines but I found myself being drawn to him and his reactions throughout. A perfect example of how roles are what the actors make them.
However, the ending was very abrupt and it took us a moment to realise it had ended. There was at least one more story the audience wanted to hear and it felt unfinished. There may have been some timing constraints but this could easily have been taken further.
We found ourselves confused by the title. With a title like the House of Commons you are immediately drawn to the assumption that there will be a political link. We can think of some reasons for this title but they are quite abstract. The place they are is referred to as the House of Commons once but it didn’t need that confusion, not that it distracted from the story once it started.
Overall, it’s intriguing with some good performances giving you a lot to think about. It is a well spent hour. It’s on at The White Bear Theatre until Saturday (February 22nd). We give this 3 stars. Book tickets here https://www.whitebeartheatre.co.uk/