The Court's HONOUR Questions All That We Take For Granted
What happens when a safe, middle class, middle aged marriage suddenly stalls? When the opportunity arises for one life to be renewed but at the expense of the happiness and security of others? HONOUR, at The Court Theatre from 21st February is a provocative, witty challenge to our notions of domestic honour, homely decency and our belief that love will prevail.
Joanna Murray-Smith wrote HONOUR in 1995 during a writing programme at Colombia University in New York. She wanted to explore a "woman who is left at the very point in her life when she ought to be reaping the benefits of her sacrifice", and recognised that "a story as familiar as this was only going to work if it dug more complexly beyond the stereotypical version".
Director Yvonne Martin describes HONOUR as "an expertly-balanced and powerful piece of theatre where every character has their reasons for what they do and is, in their own mind, doing the ‘right thing'. There is a complexity and contradiction that elevates them beyond archetypes".
Portraying these individuals are four talented and experienced actors: Jude Gibson (returning to The Court after more than thirty years) David Aston, Amy Straker and Claire Dougan portray wife, husband, daughter and loveR. Martin believes that the actors ensure that "the play is not just about one person's journey, but four multifaceted, flawed and sympathetic individuals."
Set designer Nigel Kerr has created a minimalist space that allows the exchanges between the characters to flow swiftly from one encounter into another, enabling the dialogue and characters of HONOUR to shine. "The simplicity of the set and seamless transitions between scenes means we can maintain the flow between the decision and the consequence; to show that things, once said, cannot be unsaid" says Martin.
"Even with its darker theme of abandonment, HONOUR succeeds where others fail because it is also witty, intelligent and funny," says Martin. "There is laughter behind - and often mixed with - the drama". Murray-Smith asserts that "the humour makes the sorrow much deeper... when the audience laugh, the savagery and depth of the play slips in."
Martin considers the central theme of the play is ably summed up in the title. "The term ‘honour' is often considered quaint or outdated, yet here we see four people that must wrestle with the nature of duty and choice, impulse and reason, sacrifice and selfishness - in short, who must find their own sense of honour".
* HONOUR's first public appearance was in a reading with Meryl Streep, Sam Waterston and Kyra Sedgwick.
* Joanna Murray-Smith has written fourteen plays and three novels. BOMBSHELLS was staged at The Forge in 2007 (including a National tour in 2008) and THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is earmarked for the 2009/2010 season.
* Jude Gibson last appeared at The Court in 1978.
* HONOUR has been produced in more than three dozen countries, including productions on Broadway and at the Royal National Theatre in London.
* Your browser may not support display of this image.Yvonne Martin is an Associate of The Court (life member of the Court Company) in recognition of prolonged meritorious service to the theatre.
Starring Claire Dougan, Amy Straker, Jude Gibson, David Aston