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Rehearsal photos: Wild Honey, Hampstead Theatre

Review: The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism with a Key to the Scriptures and Socialism, Hampstead Theatre

FillWyI0MDAiLCIyNTEiXQ-richardListTony Piper's three tiered set is nearly as high as the title of Tony Kushner's play is long. It's three storeys of a stripped-back brown stone in Brooklyn: stairs, landings and fragments of rooms - a bed and picture on one floor and a desk and chair on another.

This is the home of the Gus Marcantonio (David Calder) and where his family have gathered to discuss his determination to end his life. Gus is a retired longshoreman, a union man and communist. His sister Clio (Sara Kestelman) - a former nun and Maoist - has been staying to keep an eye on him but has called the family together and with them comes the baggage of their own lives.

Pill or Pier Luigi (Richard Clothier) is a gay school teacher who can't quite seem to give up his young, hustler boyfriend Eli (Luke Newberry) despite his husband Paul (Rhashan Stone) moving them out of the state. Empty or Maria Teresa (Tamsin Greig) has a pregnant girlfriend but turns to her ex husband Adam (Daniel Flynn) for sex occasionally. Adam lives in the basement and is a realtor. And the youngest is V (Lex Shrapnell) an angry, heterosexual builder who doesn't share the rest of the family's left leanings.

On the one hand you get a family that bickers, argues and sometimes laughs but on the other hand it is a play that muses on how the shifting landscape of modern life is challenging some long held views and values. That somewhat over simplifies what is a three and a half hour long play that has plenty of meat but isn't necessarily always easy to digest.

Divided roughly into three with two intervals the first 'act' feels full of scenes that out stay their welcome. The philosophising about socialism vs communism vs capitalism is interesting to a point but it is the family drama where the play really flies and to that end the first section feels like a long set up. Through the arguments, bickering and discussions you see how Gus's views have affected his children very differently. And, Gus himself has been shaped and is recognised by one key incident which proves not to be quite what it appears. It is something that haunts him.

The children's relationship with their father and their own personal relationships are what drew me in rather than the ideas Kushner explores.

When the family is in full throttle arguing, albeit the speaking over each other gets a little tedious and renders much of what is being said as inaudible, the performances are pin sharp and timed to perfection. However, it isn't quite enough to satisfy for its lengthy running time. It's a long title and a tall set but I could have done with a bit less play.

I'm giving iHo, as it's being shortened, 5 stars for performance and 3 stars for play. It runs until November 26 at Hampstead Theatre and is three hours and 30 minutes long with two intervals.


The National Theatre is staging Tony Kushner's epic Angels in America next year starring Andrew Garfield and Russell Tovey.