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Review of David Hare’s The Vertical Hour at Park Theatre

The Vertical HourThe Park Theatre is a modern, contemporary space where the beautiful and the cool seem to congregate. Sharing this space, immediately grants access to this scene and membership, if only for a night, to this special society.

This perfectly bedecked story house begins to tell its tale as you enter the auditorium where the most beautiful scene has been set – a veranda sprawls across the room that would look as at home in a Tuscan village as it does representing the remote serenity of a Shrewsbury village; and it is here that the drama unfolds. With such an exceptional setting, a script of the highest calibre by Britain’s foremost playwright David Hare, and a cast mixing fresh new talent with the experienced and established; there is an atmosphere of high expectation.

The play begins with us being introduced to the main protagonist, the wild and beautiful Nadia Blye (Thusitha Jayasundera) an American war correspondent turned teacher whose passions flow from her every word and movement, inciting, inspiring and enticing all those who cross her path. She is a simmering pot, with a boiling undercurrent, just waiting for the lid to blow. A vacation, takes Nadia from Yale to an isolated village on the Welsh borders, where she becomes embroiled in a father/son issue that is to change them all. Elapsing over a series a meal time conversations, secrets are revealed, feelings are exposed, acceptance and understanding is both gained and given in both political and personal viewpoints.

This narrative is especially poignant in a time where there is political unrest and a possible danger of both Britain and America being involved in military action in defence of a far off country. The discussion of the involvement in the war in Iraq could never be so relevant. The topic is dealt with openly and evenly with compassion and realism. Always a sensitive subject, David Hare has a gift for making it accessible to all, by relating it to a firsthand perspective against an ‘armchair’ politician, both convinced they know what is best for their own country and for the unity of the rest of the world.

This is a love triangle of a different kind. Peter Davison is compelling as man facing ageing, loneliness, his failures as a husband and father and some secrets he must take responsibility for. The awkwardness of estranged father and son united is beautifully played with begrudging love and respect on both sides; their joint fascination with the feisty and fascinating Nadia helps them confront demons both in their past and future.

The subject matter is dealt with dignity and respect, whilst not softening the horror of the war on terror and all those it affects. Through open and frank discussion of opposing views, these conversations lead to realisations and revelations of the people behind them; a journey of self-discovery of who they are, where they should be, what they believe in and whom they should be with.

Fascinating, warm, and gripping; a rare group of talent and an enthralling performance.

5 Star Rating

Review by Rachel Borland


The Vertical Hour
Nadia Blye knows exactly what her stance is on Iraq. A former war reporter and Professor of International Relations at Yale, she has advised the President and seen action in Sarajevo and Baghdad. She is sure of her place in the world and her opinion of it. Until, that is, she meets an equally opinionated and lethally charming man – her boyfriend’s father – over a weekend in Shropshire. His intervention has far-reaching consequences for them all.

Cast: Peter Davison  (Doctor Who, All Creatures Great and Small), and Thusitha Jayasundera (Holby City & War Horse). They are joined by Finlay Robertson, Cameron Cuffe and Pepter Lunkuse.

The Vertical Hour by David Hare
Produced by Oliver Taheri Productions
Directed by Nigel Douglas
Designed by Charlie Damigos
Lighting Design by Julian McCready
Sound Design by Harry Barker
Casting Gemma Hancock
Marketing QNQ Creative
Digital and Social The Sprezz & Mini Productions
Park Theatre

Plays until: 26th October
Pay What You Can Night: Tues 30th Sept (In person at the box office from 6pm on the day only, subject to availability)
Q&A with Sir David Hare, hosted by Mark Lawson: 1st Oct
Tues – Sat Evenings 19.30
Sat & Sun Matinees 15.00
Running Time 2 hours 15 minutes (with a 15 minute interval)


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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