Monday, 14 July 2014

'Great Britain' National Theatre, Lyttleton ****

Quite possibly the most secretive production to have ever been produced by the National Theatre in its fifty year history, which is Richard Bean's newest offering, ‘Great Britain’ is an incredibly controversial play that clearly establishes the vulgar industry that is tabloid journalism, and the effects of the phone hacking scandal. ‘Great Britain’ was first announced ten days before press night and explains the work had to be kept top secret as to not offence the personalities and general public that were affected. This was due to the provocative themes that are radiated through the performance. The play takes place at the headquarters of tabloid publication ‘The Free Press’ and introduces us to News Editor, Paige Britain, a conniving woman, who stop at nothing to sell newspapers and to increase how own prospects for promotion. One such day, when she obtains information by tracking celebrities mobile and phone home phones to seek out their private and sordid life stories such as cricketer, Jasper Donald's affair and within this she publicises this to the nation in a hope to sell a couple of copies. This proves to be fruitful in her aims and continues to phone hack a vast amount of personalities who are withholding horrific information that needs to be exposed. Bean’s narrative and dialogue combines both disgust and humour with incredible style and ease and the references of actual people in the public eye was exceedingly mesmerising i.e.The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. This play continues Richard Bean’s reign as the comic playwright of the last four years, with his previous one ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ now touring nationwide, and it leads you to question whether the tabloids are being ethically coherent with the stories that their journalists are writing. This appears to not be the case in ‘The Free Press’ newspaper. It's a definite replication of Rupert Murdoch’s deceased paper, ‘The News of the World’ which explains that your personal life cannot be kept undisclosed. The performances by the company of ‘Great Britain’ were brilliantly captured in all elements of the production. Billie Piper is wonderful as the disgraceful newspaper News Editor, Paige Britain. One found the strategies she would use to pay people off were well conceived and instigated has vindictiveness to such panache. Roberts Glenister is superb as the Editor, Wilson Tikkel. The scenes where he'd called the weekly meetings which were unprofessionally led were vastly amusing to witness. Aaron Neil is marvellous as Commissioner Sully Kassam, and provides the majority of the comedy elements, in particular the police investigation videos that you would see on the news channels. The National's director, Nicholas Hytner directs and it's exceptional as he's been able to work with divisive themes and present it in a courteous manner and you're just found the production to be hilariously engaging. Tim Hatley's design is brilliant as it undoubtedly states the revolted atmosphere of the publications world. I thought that ‘Great Britain’ was a fun experience that conveys a current situation to glorious standard and once it transfers to the West End you should not miss this thought-provoking performance.

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