All glory, laud and Honour to this remarkable production.

Teasing, tormenting, infuriating and deeply moving, Joanna Murray-Smith’s reflective play is a masterpiece of provocation and is not to be missed.

The Wildman Studio at Ilkley Playhouse, is undressed, set-less and contains no back drop – only a pair of stark white chairs and a stage block occupy the space and yet the black box is so rich in detail, language and action that anything more would be overwhelming. The text here is densely descriptive and the performances are rounded and beautifully explored by this brilliant cast so that nothing is lacking.

Director, Gilly Rogers, has let an amazingly talented quartet of actors loose on this material and they have repaid her trust. As the play opens we meet first George (Wander Bruijel) and Claudia (Becky Kordowicz). George is a dignified, intellectual, highly respected member of journalism’s establishment and Claudia is a young, determined and intelligent rookie reporter sent out to profile him. Very quickly it becomes clear that this is not going to be straightforward, the relationship between them is not going to be purely professional as Claudia sets out her own position, her aims and ambitions and her very strong opinions, whilst trying to establish how she should best portray that of George.

Written as a series of duologues, there are rarely more than two of the characters on the stage which allows us to focus fully on their conversation. We next meet Honor (Geraldine Woodhouse), George’s devoted wife of over thirty years. She is also a writer, albeit one who has hung up her pen to better support her husband and raise their child. They sit together contentedly, reflecting on their friendships, their daughter’s success, their plans. They are intellectual equals, solid in their partnership but also keen to spar and debate, maintaining a lively rivalry and challenging each other’s opinions in a stimulating way.

It seems impossible then, that anything could come between them and yet shockingly it does in the form of the very persuasive and seductive younger woman, clearly lured by the influence and renown that George carries so compellingly. George’s head is turned remarkably easily and in a scene which is reminiscent of the seduction of Alan Rickman in Love Actually, he has a thunderbolt moment, and turning on a no more than a few very choice words, he throws over his former life and announces his departure to his understandably stunned wife.

This is powerful stuff – almost too intimate and poignant to watch. Becky Kordowicz and Wander Bruijel’s performances dance around each other, flitting and flirting with each other and daring the other to respond until George falls under Claudia’s spell. The effect on Honor is devastating to watch and Geraldine emotes so powerfully those dread feelings of betrayal and loss. Keira Heckman plays the couple’s daughter, Sophie, and delivers a portrayal of loss and devastation equal to that of her mother, coupled with a disbelief and disgust at her father’s actions. There is more than a little sense of there being ‘no fool like and old fool’, but the writing here runs so much deeper. Lines and phrases which stop you in your tracks abound and this cast is relishing every one. Splendid.

Honour runs until 13th July. Cancel whatever you can to catch it.