In a week when the current House of Commons mutated into a brawling ball pit for sugar-enraged toddlers, it was almost calming to see the elegant 80’s Tory grandee and his left-wing Aga-fiddling wife bicker in the thoroughly excellent Hansard at the National.

Alex Jennings’ suave, patronising, possibly philandering backbencher in the third Thatcher government is a deadly accurate page torn from the Alan Clark Diaries, polishing his patient passive aggression until his wife becomes enraged.

Nobody does sidelined corporate or political wife with the crafted precision of Lindsay Duncan, they have furnished some of her finest performances on both stage and television. As Diana, she floats through her Cotswold kitchen in a silken nightdress and a haze of gin.

There’s an easy early barb about people voting Conservative because they’d ‘like to be fucked by an old Etonian’ which understandably brought the house down, but Simon Woods’ script is equally negative about Kinnock’s Labour front bench – the dysfunctional Tories look across the House at the ramshackle opposition and ‘can’t believe our luck’.

Jennings and Duncan spar with deliciously precise language, and score each other on the accuracy and elegance of their barbs. When it hits home, the dialogue crackles like Noel Coward’s Private Lives, another play about people who may love each other but can’t live together. As Woods’ first play, it is an astonishingly confident debut.

The crux of their argument is around Section 28, the notorious clause which limited local authorities’ ability to promote homosexuality as a lifestyle choice. Again, the timing couldn’t be sharper as religious groups argue over the content and appropriate age of sex education in state schools.

The reason for Diana and Robin’s opposing viewpoints only become fully clear in the final minutes of the play, and it might be braver for Woods to bring these truths out slightly earlier, to allow both for more audience understanding, and perhaps the characters’ resolution.

As with the real stuff, though, it’s best to ignore the politics, and enjoy the theatre.

Until 25 November