The Duck House (2013)

WHAT: The Duck House
WHERE: Theatre Royal, Nottingham
WHEN: 16 November 2013

theduckhouseTHE DUCK HOUSE is an outrageous new laugh out loud comedy set in a world of dodgy receipts, dodgier deceit, and pure Parliamentary panic.

May 2009. Gordon Brown’s Government is in meltdown and a General Election is just one year away. Labour backbencher Robert Houston loves being an MP and will do anything to save his seat – including change sides. All is going well with his switch from red to blue until, on the eve of his final interview with Sir Norman Cavendish, a Tory grandee, the Expenses Scandal breaks.

As public fury mounts over taxpayers’ millions being frittered away on second homes, hanging baskets, moat-cleaning and duck houses, Robert and his secretarial staff (aka wife Felicity, student son Seb, gorgeous girlfriend Holly and Russian housekeeper Ludmilla) find themselves in big, big trouble.

Not much more I can add to the description. Ben Miller is the MP Robert Houston, who’s about to jump ship from Labour to the Conservatives. He’s expecting a visit from an important Tory (Simon Shepherd), and wants everything to be perfect. Especially since the expenses scandal is unfolding in the background, and Robert has been a very diligent expense claimer, shall we say? There are very few things in the house that he’s not let the tax payer pay for.

His wife (Nancy Carroll) works for him, sort of, for tax purposes. Housekeeper Ludmila (Debbie Chazen) has a job thanks to the tax payers. Robert also claims a second home, a flat in London, currently occupied by his son (James Musgrave), who wants to introduce his girlfriend (Diana Vickers) to his parents.

It’s a farce, and yes, there are doors being open and shut a lot. The first act takes place in the fancy livingroom of the big house where the family live. The second, in the London flat. You also get to see more of Simon Shepherd than you might have wanted.

All the expense claims mentioned in the show are real – actual British MPs claimed for these things, from hanging baskets to duck houses. Here, they’ve all been collected so that one and the same MP claims for all of them, instead of them being spread out, but it’s for comic purposes. Still, considering the things being claimed for, you really want to shake your head and say “hey I know how we can solve the budget deficit”.

The Duck House did a UK tour before settling in the West End, and we saw it while it was in Nottingham. It’s a funny show, with plenty of laughs. The cast are great, and I’d say it was well worth the  ticket price. If you get a chance to see it, and if political satire tickles your fancy, this is a good choice of theatre entertainment.

4 out of 5 receipts.

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