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The Vertical Hour is a play by David Hare. The play addresses the relationship of characters with opposing views on the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and also explores psychological tension between public lives and private lives. The play received its world premiere at the Music Box Theater on Broadwaymarker, on November 30, 2006, in a production directed by Sam Mendes. The premiere cast featured Bill Nighy, Julianne Moore in her Broadway debut and Andrew Scott. It closed on 11 March 2007 after a run of 23 previews and 117 performances.

The play received its UK premiere at the Royal Court Theatremarker on 17 January 2008 in a production directed by Jeremy Herrin. The principal actors were Indira Varma, Anton Lesser and Tom Riley. It was the fastest selling new play in the Royal Court's history and was broadcast on BBC Radio Three on May 25, 2008.

Roles

Role Premiere Cast, 30 November 2006New York Citymarker, Music Box Theater UK Premiere Cast, 17 January 2008Londonmarker, Royal Court Theatremarker
Nadia Blye Julianne Moore Indira Varma
Oliver Lucas Bill Nighy Anton Lesser
Philip Lucas Andrew Scott Tom Riley
Dennis Dutton Dan Bittner Joseph Kloska
Terri Scholes Rutina Wesley Wunmi Mosaku


Synopsis

Nadia Blye is a professor at Yale Universitymarker, a former war correspondent during the 1990's Balkan conflicts, and a supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As the play begins, she is in conference with one of her students, Dennis Dutton, over the merits of one of his writing assignments. During the course of the conversation, Dennis reveals that he is infatuated with Nadia, even though he has a fiancée. Distressed, Nadia dismisses Dennis from her office.

Nadia and her English boyfriend, Philip Lucas, travel to Shropshire to visit Philip's father, Oliver, a physician, so that Nadia can meet Oliver for the first time. Philip tells Nadia that his father is a habitual womanizer and is opposed to the Iraq war. Oliver and Nadia debate the merits of the invasion of Iraq and of intervention by one country into the affairs of another country in general. Nadia justifies the invasion based on the earlier oppression of the Iraqi people, and her observations that the Western powers did nothing to alleviate the suffering of the Balkan peoples in the 1990s. In the play, her character is described as having visited US President George W. Bush to offer advice on foreign policy related to the Middle East and Iraq. She acknowledges that the aftermath of the invasion was undesirable, but that this did not negate the original rationale. Oliver counters that the US and UK invading forces had no plans for the reconstruction of Iraq and that the rationale for the invasion, purported weapons of mass destruction, was false and unjustified.

During the course of the discussion, the strained relationship between Oliver and Philip is revealed to Nadia. An unspoken attraction develops between Oliver and Nadia, of which Philip is suspicious. Philip clearly tells Nadia that his father is trying to seduce her, which leads to strain between Nadia and Philip. Nadia also learns of Oliver's "open marriage" and extramarital affairs, one of which led to the accidental death of one of Oliver's mistresses. This caused Oliver to give up his London practice and home, and to move to the country in isolation.

The play ends as Nadia is in conference with another student, Terri Scholes, criticising Terri's latest writing assignment for a class. Terri tells Nadia that she plans to leave Yale because her boyfriend has broken up with her. Nadia commiserates that she, too, has recently broken up with a boyfriend. She convinces Terri to wait a day before finalizing her decision to leave Yale, but reveals that she herself will be leaving Yale to return to being a war correspondent.

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