This new play by Richard Bean is only publicised and opened for ticket sale on the day of its premiere, coinciding with the verdict of the phone hacking trial. This satire focuses on the culture of the tabloid press, extracting information by going through bins and hacking phones, paparazzi intimidation and using investigators to blackmails for silence. The cosy relationship of the press, politicians and the police is also extensively explored.
The production is full of big screen projections with rolling news and spinning news headline and a snappy pace which masks its two hour forty-five minutes running time well. It is comprehensive in its coverage and the thinly disguised characters and their real life counterparts are easily identifiable. Tough some of the jokes are a bit clumsy and perhaps the link of the sequences of events as intrinsically linked to Great Britain as a nation is slightly overstated. Billy Piper is positively radiant as the the ambitious and uncompromising Paige Britain, who uses her looks and her dubious moral compass to rise to the top of the newspaper hierarchy. Her charm and intelligence makes this unlikely character completely believable. And the absurdly clueless Police commissioner played by Aaron Neil is a great comedic creation.
This play demonstrated the power of the press to the full and this is as much as a edited highlight of history as an entertaining and funny play.
Photo by Johan Persson