Loyalty at Hampstead Theatre

Am getting out of order – I saw this back in July.

Loyalty, by Sarah Helm, is set during the run-up to the Iraq war, and around the period of the inquiry into it. Helm is the wife of Tony Blair’s chief-of-staff, Jonathan Powell. Maxine Peake plays Laura a staunchly anti-war journalist with experience in the Middle East who is married to Nick (Lloyd Owen), who happens to be chief of staff to a prime minister called Tony (Patrick Capaldi).

It’s a compelling play with some chilling moments and a genuine sense of internal conflict. Peake starts off perhaps too shrill, but settles into a more believable character that balances excitability with a sense of conscience and inquiry. Owen, understated throughout, is a convincing foil. Capaldi musters up a rather enjoyable Tony Blair, cutting something of a tragicomic figure throughout.

Edward Hall’s production is pacey, especially the second half, with good sets and a strong supporting cast.

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