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Previewed 7 February 2006, Opened 14 February 2006, Closed 6 May 2006 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London
A major revival of Joanna Murray-Smith's play Honour in London starring Diana Rigg and Martin Jarvis and directed by David Grindley.
Can long-term love be passionate? Can passion be inherent in a long-term loving relationship? Honor is happily married to George, a distinguished TV journalist, for who she abandoned a promising literary career. But when Claudia, a young ambitious journalist arrives to interview him, the meeting precipitates a marital crisis that has both unexpected consequences and surprising resolutions for them and their grown up daughter Sophie. Joanne Murray-Smith's touching, immaculately drawn tale of a mature marriage is funny and poignant, describing the moving balance of power with astonishing accuracy.
The cast for Honour in London features Diana Rigg as 'Honor' and Martin Jarvis as 'George' with Natascha McElhone as 'Claudia' and Georgina Rich as 'Sophie'. It is directed by David Grindley with designs by Liz Ascroft, lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Gregory Clarke. This play premiered to sell-out audiences at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre in February 2003 when the cast featured Corin Redgrave as 'George', Eileen Atkins as 'Honor', Catherine McCormack as 'Claudia' and Anna Maxwell Martin as 'Sophie' and it was directed by Roger Michell.
"As if aware that this needs to be something more than just another tale of marital breakdown among media folk, Murray-Smith adroitly switches the spotlight so that each blackout scene seems to be a chapter from the memoirs of each of the participants. This has, inevitably, a distancing effect so that it's very hard to care even about the raw pain exhibited by Diana Rigg in a beautifully modulated performance... The trick of Honour is to go over familiar territory with new searchlights, and four very strong performances keep the debate flying high enough to keep our minds off the fact that it's all just wordplay with the danger that real emotions get, somehow, lost in the debate." The Daily Express
"This heart-rending, hard-edged and devastating play by Joanna Murray-Smith is about love, lust, loyalty, betrayal and survival, their price and their value, which are seldom the same. It heaves and bursts with a cruel and sensitive intelligence... David Grindley's spellbinding, ruthlessly perceptive production makes him the kind of 24-carat contender the theatre needs... Martin Jarvis has captured the essence of the posh academic who is being flattered and the middle-aged man who is being skilfully seduced... Diana Rigg gives one of the subtlest, most generous and most moving performances of her career." The Sunday Times
"Honour, by Joanna Murray-Smith, at Wyndham's Theatre is a souffle-light diagnosis of a 30-year marriage between two writers... There are some good one-liners here - but as a dissection of modern marriage it is on a par with an Easy Living article about women putting their creativity on hold for their man. And at most it's a mildly amusing evening with a bittersweet conclusion." The Sunday Telegraph
"The central male character of Aussie Joanna Murray-Smith's play is an emotional accident waiting to happen. No matter that he's supposed to be smarter than the average award-winning TV pundit. As soon as a young and leggy smartyboots interviewer pumps up his ego, he's out to prove the old saying that there's no fool like an old 'un. Dumping his wife of 32 years, he lurches off down the road signposted "Sex And Eternal Youth" towards ultimate disaster. A requirement for responsibility and respect when the first flame of passion dies is what Honour's all about - to reinforce the message, the ditched wife is called Honor. Sombre stuff, so what's the attraction of director David Grindley's glossy take on this wordy guide to marriage demolition? Well, Honor is played, superbly of course, by Diana Rigg, whose journey from The Avengers to becoming a theatrical Dame has seen her develop into one of the world's finest stage actresses. And Natascha McElhone, star of such movies as The Truman Show and Ronin, is terrific too as the ruthless temptress who snaffles Honor's old man (Martin Jarvis). Beat a path to the door of Wyndhams for a feast of fine acting. But beware - the marital blood-letting might give you chronic indigestion. The Sun
The playwright Joanna Murray-Smith on Honour: "The play is the dissection of a marriage. It's about the consequences of a man who goes off with the younger woman - the consequences of that event on himself, on the wife that he leaves, on the woman he leaves his wife for and on the daughter. It's the older story in the world. There is nothing at all original about the storyline of Honour, but what perhaps makes it distinctive is that it's written in a particular way where we view that experience from all fours perspectives - the husband, the wife, the lover and the daughter."
Honour in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 7 February 2006, opened on 14 February 2006 and closed on 6 May 2006.