The End of History…
and the Start of a New Era?
Written by Daen Palma Huse, 05.07.2019
The End of History…, written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany, is a fitting comment on contemporary British society where intellectual milieus and social classes clash at times. The play undoubtedly lives up to the quality we are used to from productions that are shown at The Royal Court Theatre. With a brilliant cast, Thorne and Tiffany have produced a play that consists of engaging dialogue delivered by David and Sal, played by David Morrissey and Lesley Sharp. For the duration of the play, approximately 110 minutes, the spotlight is on David and Sal as parents that do their best to pass on their values and beliefs to their three children Carl, Polly and Tom. The children are named after Karl Marx, Polly Hill and Thomas Paine – David and Sal’s political views, values and beliefs being prominent in the education of their children. We witness the (dis)functionalities of the family over three long dinner scenes set in the family home in Newbury in 1997, 2007 and 2017. Harriet, Carl’s ‘posh Hampshire girlfriend’, comes in as an outsider and provides a welcome opposition to the politically left-wing views of the family at times. Kate O’Flynn, in her role as Polly, as well as Sam Swainsbury and Laurie Davidson deliver great and believable performances. The dialogue is well written and we hang on every actors lips to catch the words delivered on stage.
We are left feeling as though the play could have been more specific in terms of references to contemporary society and politics in order to build the narrative. However, overall the play is not radical, nor does it claim to be, but sheds light on sensible issues that can surface in any family. In personal dialogues, reactions are documented and prompt the viewer to think about their own beliefs, inside and outside a family context. The political backdrop in particular raises questions of how we live together in the UK at present, in an age where lines between class and education increasingly blur. Perhaps, it can also be understood as a comment on the outdated-ness of class, income and intellectual milieus – circling back to family issues that can concern us all, not just a selected number of ‘others.’
The End of History… runs until 10th August 2019. For more information visit https://royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/theendofhistory/