The Vertical Hour, The Royal Court Theatre, London

18th January 2008 at 00:00
Do Western countries have a duty to intervene in international conflicts? Can America really conceive of an objective foreign policy? Was Saddam Hussein as bad as Hitler? Do these questions make you want to run screaming to the nearest blender and shove your face in it until your ears are minced into such a shapeless mush that they'll never be exposed to another circular argument about the Iraq War again?

If the answer to the latter is yes, then you may wish to avoid The Vertical Hour, David Hare's latest play, which eschews the experiences of actual soldiers to concentrate on a sofa-side battle between a scud-happy American war reporter and her boyfriend's anti-war dad.

Bill Nighy excelled in the original, although Julianne Moore, as the reporter, fared less well. Both stars bowed out before the London run, to be replaced by Indira Varma and Anton Lesser. The production had mixed reviews in the States, with several jibes at the expense of its stilted dialogue ("When you were talking about your past, about Sarajevo, I couldn't help thinking: 'This is a woman who's been badly hurt'.") but will hopefully put up more of a fight when it begins at the Royal Court this week.

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