Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Not so Great Britain...


The West End transfer of the National Theatre's production of 'Great Britain' looked uncomfortable last night.

It was written and rehearsed in secret whilst the phone-hacking trials were in progress and opened soon after (June) without previews or too much publicity to generally favourable reviews (especially for Billie Piper in the lead role).

It is strange that such an immediate and 'current' piece should look so dated, so quickly! Not only is the phone-hacking scandal already very old news, but the 'state of the nation' on which the play comments has changed hugely during the debate on Scottish independence. We aren't living in the same 'Great Britain' that we were in June.

But even given this, it was a very uneven and ultimately disappointing show that dealt in broad stereotypes that we have seen far too often.

Lucy Punch played the role originally created by Billie Piper at a constant level of coarse smugness that was simply annoying after the first 10 minutes - to be honest she was pretty awful. Dermot Crowley did a good job as the Murdoch-figure and Robert Glenister was fun as the awful Editor (until he disappeared in the second act). The show was totally stolen by the hilariously incompetent Police Commissioner played by Aaron Neil and by the brilliant graphics displayed on very funky large dividing screens at scene changes.

But 'riotously funny' it was not.

There's a real benefit to the brilliant NT Travelex ticket scheme by which £15 seats are offered to most shows - you can go to a play and be disappointed without being too irate that you've wasted a huge amount of money!

And crisps £1.70 a bag (I missed my tea)! Come on....