For a play about a marital bust-up after 32 years, Honour is a surprisingly bland and bloodless piece.

Author Joanna Murray-Smith has much more fun with feuding and unfaithful couples in her Australian novels like Sunnyside than she can wring from the bourgeois intellectual George and the choice he makes between his rack of lamb basting poet wife, and an exciting young journalist sent like a 29-year-old cliché to interview him.

If you try to put yourself in each character’s shoes, you don’t make the decisions they do in the play: wordy bore George isn’t obviously a babe magnet – this is Henry Goodman, nor George Clooney – and while he might be flattered at the young woman’s attention, he’d more likely shag her than offer to buy a yacht and take her around the world, especially when she doesn’t want to go.

Equally Imogen Stubbs, who having split from Sir Trevor Nunn after 21 years must have some valuable experience of this territory, takes it comparatively quietly. It’s a minimal staging so maybe there wasn’t the budget for plates to throw.   The huskily-voiced Ms Stubbs was further hampered by laryngitis to the point at which she sounded as husky as an actual husky, but even when she finds out what her husband has been doing and that he’s pretty unapologetic about it, she neither barks nor bites with satisfactory vigour.

The best interaction is between Stubbs and Katie Brayben, largely very convincing as the sharp journalist and they trade some good points about agency and entitlement and some women’s self-deluding complicity in men’s agendas – like career and fatherhood.

But then Murray-Smith lets us down again with a weak scene between Goodman and Brayben lounging on cushions and she’s girlishly asking to know more about Nietzsche or Sartre.  She doesn’t actually say ‘I like a man with a really big … intellect’ but you sense the author only narrowly decided to blue-pencil it.

All lamb-basting and no lambasting. Disappointing.

 

until 24 November