Not having been to the theatre for a time going to the National Theatre yesterday for a performance on the last day, there at least, of "Great Britain" a very topical play by Richard Bean, turned out to be both interesting and entertaining.
The action largely took place in the offices of a cheap tabloid newspaper called the 'Free Press'. Every now and again there were depicted on large moving screens on stage, headlines from other papers such as "The Dependent" and "Guardener" more or less on topic (political bedrooms and police corruption) and amusingly with headlines from another paper obviously intended to be the Mail, entirely off topic (eg parking issues).
Presumably the play was inspired by the News of the World phone hacking issues that eventually led to that publication's demise and to the real life difficulties about Rebekah Brooks (acquitted) and Andy Coulson (sent down) but it was very funny and brilliantly acted by a very large cast.
The following quote from a critic a few weeks back is just about right in my view:
"Richard Bean's scurrilous and very funny new play is nothing if not topical. Only last week, the phone-hacking trial lurched to its end with just one person found guilty, at a cost of as much as £100m. And now here is an energetic burlesque of the whole sorry business, lovingly staged by our greatest comedy director, Nicholas Hytner, and set in the newspaper offices of a terrible red-top called The Free Press... This is no brilliantly penetrating study of the way we live now, but it is a colourful romp..."
The house was packed with not a spare seat even for the usually less busy Saturday afternoon matinee performance and both mrs maytrees and I greatly enjoyed the drama.
The critics generally laud the play but criticised it for having perhaps a too wide ambit. However for fun and laughter based on some recent real events it was excellent.
My main criticism concerns the over use of expletives. Of course one knows that in C21 UK the over use of expletives for some reason seems to be almost fashionable. Presumably newspaper offices are not immune from this despite the fact that peppering every sentence with expletives is in my view an infantile, British sociological trend and I doubt that quite so many expletives a minute were really necessary.
On the other hand there was a degree of advance warning given about that aspect of the otherwise very funny play which meant that one could regard that tiresome issue as being sidelined.
Overall this proved to be great way to spend a bank holiday Saturday afternoon.