Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Review - Great Britain


UNLESS you have been living on Mars for the last few years it cannot have escaped your notice that the news has of late been dominated by phone hacking, sleeze, expenses, cover ups and fraud - much of it interlinked.
Last week some journalists were handed prison sentences for their part in a phone hacking scandal that brought into question the behaviour of the media and police.
And in a genius and hot off the press move, just as the sentences were about to be dished out, the National Theatre announced it had been secretly rehearsing a play dealing with all of the issues above and which duly opened a few days later.
Written by Richard Bean, directed by outgoing artistic director Nick Hytner and with a stellar cast headed up by Billie Piper, Great Britain has hit written all over it.
Billie Piper plays Paige Britain, the ruthless, scheming and seductive news editor at the Free News, a red top headed up by editor Wilson Tikkel (Robert Glenister) who rings his bell while barking orders and an Irish media mogul Paschal O’Leary (Dermot Crowley) who has designs expanding his media empire by opening a TV station.
As befits any self respecting tabloid hack, Paige just wants to scoop her rivals and will do what it takes to do so.
This of course includes sleeping and schmoozing with policemen and politicians and eventually getting her stories by illegal means.
At near on three hours it is long - but it needs to be to weave in all the topical stories of phone hacking, a murder of two children and the subsequent hounding of the father, corruption of the police, the ruthless ambition of the journalists and more.
There are of course some recognisable characters although the best lines are reserved for the inept police commissioner Sully Kassam played by Aaron Neil.
Towards the end there is even a Rebekah Brooks lookylikey editor parachuted in to the newsroom by O'Leary to take over when Tikkel gets promoted to communications director at Number 10.
Granted it has a very thinly disguised plot, with stereotypical characters but it is hugely entertaining and very funny and with a fantastic set which includes moving screens and videos of a rapping police commissioner.

Great Britain is on at the National Theatre until August 23. Tickets from £15. Visit or call 020 7452 3000

No comments:

Post a Comment